TEMECULA – With summer in full swing, the National Fire Protection Association and Electrical Safety Foundation International are joining forces to remind people about the potential electrical hazards in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, on board boats and in the waters surrounding boats, marinas and launch ramps.
Electric shock drowning can occur when faulty wiring sends an electrical current into the water, which passes through the body, causes paralysis and ultimately results in drowning.
“Most consumers, including boat and pool owners and swimmers, are not aware of the risks of electric shock drowning,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy, said. “By sharing our water safety resources, NFPA and ESFI hope to educate people so that they can safely enjoy summer water activities.”
ESFI and NFPA have pool and marina safety resources, including tip sheets and infographics, brochures, reference guides and checklists that cover safety devices, common electric shock drowning causes and prevention methods, response protocol and marina electrical safety considerations. ESFI and NFPA also recommend the following tips for swimmers, pool and boat owners.
For swimmers, never swim near a marina, dock or boatyard or near a boat while it’s running.
While in a pool, hot tub or spa, look out for underwater lights that are not working properly, flicker or work intermittently.
If a swimmer feels a tingling sensation while in a pool, they should immediately stop swimming in their current direction. Try and swim in a direction where they had not felt the tingling. Exit the water as quickly as possible; avoid using metal ladders or rails. Touching metal may increase the risk of shock.
For pool owners, when putting in a new pool, hot tub or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and – where necessary – replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep the pool, spa or hot tub electrically safe. The electrician should show the pool owner how to turn off all power in case of an emergency.
Make sure any overhead lines maintain the proper distance over a pool and other structures, such as a diving board. If there are any doubts, contact a qualified electrician or local utility company to make sure power lines are a safe distance away.
For boat owners, avoid entering the water when launching or loading a boat. Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water causing water electrification.
Each year, and after a major storm, have the boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a qualified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes of that area, including the American Boat & Yacht Council. Check with the marina owner who also should know if the marina’s electrical system has recently been inspected to meet the required codes of the area, including the National Electrical Code.
Have ground fault circuit interrupters installed on the boat; use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords, including “Y” adapters that are “UL-Marine Listed” when using electricity near water. Test GFCIs monthly.
“Many swimmers, boat and marina operators unknowingly place themselves in danger by swimming near electric-powered boats and docks,” Brett Brenner, ESFI president, said. “As incidents of electric shock drowning continue to occur every year, we are collaborating with NFPA to emphasize the importance of regular electrical inspections of pools, boats, and docks performed by qualified electricians to help prevent these tragedies while out on the water.”
ESFI has additional spa tips and resources for marina operators on raising awareness of electric shock drowning, as well as steps for keeping marinas and boats safer for patrons.
For information and resources about electric shock drowning, visit www.nfpa.org/watersafety and www.esfi.org/summer-safety.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International is dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety in the home and the workplace. ESFI proudly sponsors National Electrical Safety Month each May and engages in public education campaigns throughout the year to prevent electrical fires, injuries and fatalities. To learn more about ESFI and electrical safety, visit www.esfi.org.
Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global, nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit www.nfpa.org. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.