SWIMMING POOL SAFETY
Summer is almost here and people are planning their outdoor recreation, especially recreation involving water activities. Swimming pools are often associated with these plans. If your plans include adding a swimming pool this year, please choose your site carefully, considering any power lines that may either overhead or underground. Also, please consider these key safety points from Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)*.
- All outdoor receptacles should be covered to keep them dry. This is especially important around pools, spas and other summer water activities.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for electrical devices used outside to help prevent electrocutions and electric shock injuries. Portable GFCIs require no tools to install and are available at prices ranging from $12 to $30.
- Make sure all electrical equipment used for swimming pools (even the cleaning equipment) is grounded.
- Electrical devices and cords should be kept at least 10 feet away from water sources such as pools and spas. When possible, use battery operated electrical devices outside.
- Never handle electrical devices when you are wet – either from water activities or from perspiration.
- Make sure there are no power lines over a swimming pool.
- Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
- To avoid electric shock drowning, have an electrician inspect and upgrade your pool, spa or hot tub in accordance with applicable local codes and the National Electrical Code® (NEC).
* These tips where taken from ESFI's website article providing Pool and Spa Safety Tips.
Electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground.
It tries to find a conductor, such as metal, wood, water, or your body! Your body is 70% water. If you touch an energized bare wire or faulty appliance while you are grounded, electricity will instantly pass through you to the ground, causing a harmful-- or fatal--shock. The amount of electricity used by one 7.5-watt Christmas tree bulb can kill you in a fraction of a second if it passes through your chest. Even if it isn't fatal, electrical shock can easily cause serious falls, burns, cuts, or internal bleeding. Birds on a power line don't get shocked because they are not touching the ground or any other grounded object. But if you or the metal ladder or pole you are holding touch the same line, you'll be electricity's instant path to the ground!
Remember the most important rule for home appliances--electricity and water don't mix! Keep appliances, especially hair dryers, away from bathtubs, puddles, sinks and wet hands. Unplug an appliance before cleaning--even if it's off, it can shock, and wet skin decreases your resistance to electricity significantly. Never put metal objects in live parts of appliances or outlets. Prevent electrical fires. If you've ever touched a hot light bulb, you know how hot it can get--up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for a 100-watt bulb. Keep anything that will burn away from light bulbs, portable heaters, or toasters. Turn off heating and cooking appliances before leaving home. Don't overload outlets.
Do-it-yourself dangers: It's critical to watch out for nearby power lines the next time you: use a ladder, work on a roof, prune trees, clean a pool, dig in the yard, carry long tools and pipes, or install/remove an antenna. During outdoor recreation time, keep any of the following away from power lines: kite, model airplane, fishing pole, boat on a trailer, sailboat mast, hang glider, or parachute. All of these things can cause tragedies when they came into contact with power lines.
Electrical emergency: Don't touch anyone in contact with a power source. Instead, unplug equipment or cut power at the control panel. Never touch a fallen power line, or anything or anyone in contact with it. If someone is in a car that is touching fallen power lines, do not touch them or the car--you could be shocked. If a power line hits your vehicle, stay inside, warn others to stay away, and wait for rescue.
In an electrical emergency, stay calm and think before you act. Don't become a victim while helping someone in need. Call for help immediately!