Preventing electric shock hazards
Faulty pool lights, bonding and grounding among the most common causes of injury and death
Nearly every year at least one person drowns as a result of electric shock or electrocution in a swimming pool.
This year, that person was 15-year-old Khaleel Marcos Reynolds, who touched the exposed wires of a pool light that had been removed from the pool.
The incident occurred on August 29, 2020, at the North Villa Inn in Houston, Texas.
According to Harris County Health Officials, the pool should not have been in operation in the first place based on two failed health inspections over the course of two years. The boy’s mother is suing the motel.
Last year, it was 9-year-old McKenzie Kinley, who was swimming in her father’s backyard pool with three friends when tragedy struck. According to her father, the girls were racing from one end of the pool to the next when McKenzie grabbed a hold of the cord of the pool light, which was under repair.
The family believed the light was not connected to a power source. The incident occurred on July 19, 2019, in Citrus Heights, California. The other children in the pool were not injured.
Pool lights are most often the culprit in swimming pool electric shock drownings, as in the last two years; however, they are not always the reason.
In 2016 in Raleigh North Carolina, a 17-year-old girl, the lifeguard on duty at a community pool was shocked while reaching into the water to check the
Mike Holt’s Article 680 for Swimming Pool, Spas, Hot Tubs, Fountains and Similar Installations is available as a free PDF. Service technicians can reach Mike concerning electricity by contacting him online at www.mikeholt.com, or 888.NEC.CODE (632.2633). See SIN stories on electricity on page 10, 11, and 14. pool chemistry. She fell in the water and drowned. Another pool worker was also shocked while trying to pull her body out of the water. A faulty pool pump and broken grounding wire were the cause.
The required GFCI was also not installed.
Faulty wiring, lack of bonding or grounding, nearby appliances and frayed extension cords have also all been linked to electrocutions or electric shock drownings.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 2002 to 2018, there were 47 reported shock related incidents in pools or spas, 33 of which resulted in death.
Most could have been prevented by implementing proper electrical safety around the pool.
The CPSC is most concerned about faulty underwater lighting, aging electrical wiring that hasn’t been inspected in years, the use of sump pumps, power washers and vacuums that are not grounded, and electrical appliances (such as radios and TVs) and extension cords falling or being pulled into the water. All of these hazards present an even greater risk if the lighting, circuits and nearby receptacles are not protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – the best safety device to prevent electrocution.
According to the CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton, the best protection for families is inspection, detection and correction of electrical hazards in and around swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.
“CPSC strongly encourages residential and commercial pool owners and operators to upgrade protection of the lights, receptacles and switches with GFCIs. Older pools are the biggest concern, as underwater lighting fixtures may have degraded with age and may not be protected by GFCIs,” Stratton said.
The CPSC and the American Red Cross are also warning swimmers that electrical hazards around a pool, hot tub or spa can lead to multiple deaths or injuries.
This occurs when an individual becomes incapacitated by stray current in the water and one or more people jump in or reach out to save the victim, resulting in multiple electrocutions or serious shocks.
For instance, in 2017 in Florence, Alabama, a man and his adult son were killed in a swimming pool. The man was cleaning his pool and was found submerged by his son who jumped in to rescue him. The son was also overcome by electric shock and later died. The man’s wife was also injured by electrical shock trying to help the son.
Parents and pool owners should have an emergency plan, posted in the pool area, to safely help someone who is suffering an electrical shock. This action is necessary to prevent the victim from drowning and to protect others from the harm of electrical energy in or around the pool.
In an emergency, the American Red Cross recommends turning off all power, using a fiberglass hook to carefully remove the victim(s) from the water, administering CPR and calling 911.
For more information about electrical safety around pools, hot tubs or spas, consumers should contact CPSC at (800) 638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov.