DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — With summer here and the July 4th holiday weekend just around the corner, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding people about potential electrical hazards that exist in swimming pools, marinas and other bodies of water.
While most people are unaware of electrical dangers posed in water environments such as electric shock drowning (ESD), each year people are injured or killed from these hazards, the release states.
ESD can occur when improperly installed or maintained electrical systems within marinas or boat electrical systems result in electrical current in the water, which can then pass through a person’s body, causing a level of paralysis that can ultimately cause serious injury or drowning.
“Continued education about the presence of electrical hazards in water can help reduce the risk of electric shock drowning from happening in pools and waterways,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach & Advocacy.
“Have a qualified electrician inspect your boat, swimming pool equipment, hot tub, and spa before engaging in any water activities, and make sure they are regularly maintained to ensure all life-saving measures and protection systems are functioning properly.”
Swimmers should never swim near a marina, dock, or boatyard. While in a pool or hot tub look out for underwater lights that are not working properly, flicker, or work intermittently, the release states.
If you feel a tingling sensation while in a pool, immediately stop swimming in the direction you are heading. Exit the water as quickly as possible, but avoid using metal ladders or rails. Touching metal may increase the risk of shock.
Those who are putting in a new pool or hot tub, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations and that the completed work is inspected.
Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and, where necessary, replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool or hot tub electrically safe. Have the electrician show you how to turn off all power in case of an emergency.
If there are overhead electrical lines, make sure they have proper clearance over the pool and other structures, such as a diving board. If you have any doubts, contact a qualified electrician or your local utility company to make sure power lines are a safe distance away.
Boat owners should avoid entering the water when launching or loading a boat. These areas can contain stray electrical currents in the water, possibly leading to electric shock drowning or injury from shock, including death.
Each year, have the boat’s electrical system inspected by a qualified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes of your area, including those set by the American Boat & Yacht Council. Make the necessary repairs, if recommended. Follow the same steps after any major storm that affects the boat.
Check with the marina owner to let you know if the marina’s electrical system has recently been inspected to meet the required codes of your area, including the National Electrical Code (NEC).
Never modify the electrical system on a boat or shore power to make something work. The code-required safety mechanisms in place are intended to alert people if something is wrong with the boat and with shore power. Find a licensed, qualified professional to help determine the cause of the problem.
NFPA has resources for swimmers, boat and pool owners, including videos, tip sheets and checklists that can be accessed here.