It’s that time of year when life seems easier and a whole lot more fun. A summer day spent poolside or an evening enjoying a backyard hot tub lulls us. Children take to water a lot like ducks: easily. Yet, each year, both adults and children are injured and killed by swimming pool and hot tub dangers. One danger that is not well known is the danger of electrocution. Preventing this is something we all need to know about.
Cases of Swimming Pool Electrocution
There have been numerous instances of people around the country who were injured or killed due to aberrant electrical current in a swimming pool. For instance, three children were injured when they grabbed the metal railing of a pool ladder in an apartment complex pool in Miami. In this case, faulty wiring was found to be the reason the children were shocked. While the current paralyzed them, adults pulled them to safety. Another child in the same city did not escape death when he was electrocuted in his backyard swimming pool. In this case, the ground cable was not connected.
Last year, a California father saw that his daughter was in difficulty in the family’s backyard pool. The father dived into the pool to help his child and was electrocuted. His daughter survived but was taken to the hospital in critical condition. According to police, faulty wiring was involved.
What Goes Wrong
In most cases, the grounding, wiring or bonding caused the problem. Sometimes, wiring is old or was done without an electrician and is not up to code. Check to make sure lights are not going on and off or no longer work. In other cases, equipment is not properly grounded. The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against faulty grounding for washers, vacuums and sump pumps. A conducting wire should be run into the ground. If that is not done, someone in the pool can become the ground.
According to the National Electric Code, all metal parts of the pool within a five-foot radius including the diving board, ladders and the fence and the water itself need to be bonded to each other and grounded to avoid stray current escaping into the water.
To bond the water, 9-square inches of conductive material must be in contact with the water always. In addition, the material cannot back-off or become dislodged. Electricity can be sent into the pool through the lights even in the daytime when the lights are not on. Properly bonding and grounding the pool prevents that.
Remember, anything that holds water and is near or uses electric current shares the same problems. Make sure you check your hot tub as well.
Electric Shock: Signs
Swimmers may feel a tingling sensation or not be able to move. Muscle cramps are another early sign of electric shock. You may observe swimmers moving frantically away from an area or lying motionless in the pool. If you notice this behavior, immediately turn off the power to the pool (see below).
What to Do to Make Sure a Swimming Pool is Safe
This depends on whether you own the pool or if you and your family use a public pool. Pools at apartment complexes, hotels and community locations leave you little control. While you may ask if the pool’s wiring and grounding/bonding has been inspected, chances are the people you ask will not know.
In a home pool, you have control over the safety of the electrical system. First, it is a good idea to have a certified electrician inspect the electrical setup of the pool. If not present, the installation of a ground-fault circuit interrupter or GFCI could prevent such tragedies by tripping the circuit and turning off the electricity. GFCIs are usually recommended for:
- Any lighting circuit that is 15 volts or more
- Electrical equipment used with swimming pools including heaters
- Electrical outlets within a radius of 20 feet around the pool
It is important to test the GFCI frequently. If it malfunctions, have an electrician replace it.
Turning to swimming pool experts is a good way to make sure your pool is safe from electrical leakage according to a representative of National Swimming Pool Foundation, “Electrical shock is life-threatening. Every day people are injured or killed in electrical accidents through ignorance or negligence when they do not stop to think about what they are doing. Swimming pool and spa technicians who are installing or repairing electrical equipment in or near the water must apply principles of hazard recognition and risk management to reduce accidents involving electricity.”
Be Prepared by Knowing These Life-Saving Tips
Make sure you know where the circuit breakers are for your home pool. If something goes wrong, do not attempt to jump in the water to save someone. Chances are you will be electrocuted too. Instead, turn off the current before rescuing the person. If you can’t turn off the power, use a fiberglass, non-conducting rod or a life-saver to pull the individual out of the water.
If someone is electrocuted, administer CPR if possible once they are out of the water. Call 911 immediately.
Parents and pool owners are urged to post the following information provided by the CPSC and the Red Cross at the pool:
In Case of Pool Emergency
- Turn off power at the pool
- Call 911
- Use a fiberglass Shepherd’s crook/rescue hook, to extend your reach to the victim
- Brace yourself on the pool deck
- Extend the Shepherd’s crook/rescue hook toward the victim
- If the victim cannot grasp the Shepherd’s crook/rescue hook, use the loop to encircle the
- victim’s body and pull him or her, face-up, to the edge
- Carefully remove the victim from the water;
- Position the victim on his or her back;
- Tilt the victim’s head and lift the chin to open the airway
- Check the victim for breathing and, if the victim isn’t breathing, give two rescue breaths;
- Check the victim for signs of circulation (normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to rescue breaths) and
- If there are no signs of circulation, begin CPR;
- If there are signs of circulation, begin rescue
Negligence at the Pool
Swimming pool electrical events can lead to serious injury and death. Being aware of the dangers and ways to rescue a person in the pool when this happens is important. Checking for risks around your pool is also essential.
However, there are situations where you have done everything you can, yet electric shock occurs. If you have hired an electrician to inspect your pool and someone is hurt, chances are the inspection was not done properly. In such cases, a electrocution accident attorney can check the electrician’s certifications and make sure he is authorized to do this work. Additionally, an expert can determine If the pool was properly brought up to code. Failure to do this is negligence on the electrician’s part.
If the accident occurred in a community, hotel or apartment complex pool, the responsibility for making sure the pool is safe rests with the owners. An personal injury attorney who is experienced in pool electrocution can check their records to make sure proper inspection was done and whether the pool is properly protected. If this was not done and recorded, the owners are negligent in their duty to the people who use the pool.
The Law Office of David Azizi Can Help
David Azizi is a personal injury attorney and a family man. He shares the need to protect his family from harm. David knows that when swimming pool accidents happen, the feelings of powerlessness and grief are overwhelming. He also knows that it is our duty to make sure that it does not happen again.
David will assist you in finding out why the tragedy happened with experts who know what to look for. If negligence occurred, he will be there to assist you in making a claim to recover damages associated with the accident. If a family member died, David can help you recover funeral and end-of-life expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit. Call the Law Offices of David Azizi at (800) 991-5292. He is available 24/7 to answer your questions.