Swimming pools today are modern marvels that combine comfort and high-tech electronics to provide relaxing outdoor recreational spaces for millions of families across the country. But it’s important to ensure that they’re always as safe as they can be. Because of how complex swimming pools are these days, it’s vital to check for anything that poses a risk to water and electricity safety.
Whether you’re getting ready to open up your pool for the season or you live in a warmer climate and use it year round, pay attention to these potential swimming hazards and what you can do to prevent accidents around your pool.
Watch Out for Flickering Lights
If you see flickering pool lights or hear any strain on filters, steer clear of the pool! Flickering lights in and around the pool are indicative of some electrical failure or loose connection. If you see this, it’s a sign of a serious risk to water and electricity safety around your pool.
To prevent this, be sure to check your pool lightings’ wiring system regularly, or have a skilled electrician do so.
Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that pool owners install ground-fault circuit interruptors (GFCI) to protect against electrical shock, especially for underwater lighting in pools and hot tubs.
GFCIs constantly monitor flow in an electrical circuit and they can sense any loss of current. If the electrical current flowing through two conductors differs, even by a small amount, a GFCI will instantly interrupt the current, preventing lethal amounts of electricity from reaching anyone in the immediate area. However, note that if this does occur and someone is close by, they may still feel a painful shock, but the risk of fatal electrocution is kept extremely low.
Ensure Electrical Devices and Cords Are Kept at a Distance
Electrical cords and devices should be kept at least 10 feet away from water sources. In terms of water and electricity safety, this applies to all above-ground and in-ground swimming pools and spas according to Article 680 of the National Electrical Code. When possible, it’s recommended that pool owners use battery-operated devices outdoors.
Don’t Handle Electrical Devices While Wet
This is fairly self-explanatory, but whenever your hands are wet or if you’re in a swimming pool, do not use any device with access to a live electrical current (e.g. televisions, radios, etc.)
However, don’t assume that just because you’re out of the pool and your hands are wet, you’ll be electrocuted. Being electrocuted while having wet hands and handling electronic devices is generally a myth that came about when people used to feel a slight shock upon ringing door bells in the rain.
Common belief held that this would happen with any electrical device and any amount of moisture. However, the water and electricity safety concern here has more to do with electrical devices themselves being wet rather than our own hands.
Ensure There Are No Power Lines Over the Pool Area
All electrical wiring that has to be run over a pool or spa is required to be at least 22.5 feet above the water. This applies to all power lines and communications systems such as broadband wiring and phone lines. Above diving boards, the clearance height must be no less than 14.5 feet above the diving board platform.
Don’t Swim in a Thunderstorm
Warm weather usually means that the air all around us retains more moisture. With that moisture comes the severe thunderstorms that most of us associate with Summer. Coincidentally, this is usually when most of us like to enjoy swimming pools. However, depending on how severe these types of storms get in your area, there are a few electricity and water safety considerations you need to think about.
Water doesn’t “attract” lightning. However, it does conduct electricity incredibly well. It’s still not fully clear how far lightning will travel through water but serious injuries and fatalities have happened through indirect lightning strikes on open waters. In many cases, lightning struck within 10-30 yards of a person. However, plumbing and wiring around a pool can extend how much a strike can affect.
What About Saltwater Pools?
Even with a saltwater pool, it’s advisable that you stop swimming whenever there’s thunder or lightning close by. Even if lightning is a few miles away, light travels incredibly fast and new parts of a storm may manifest quickly. Salt water is conducive to electricity, just like fresh water that’s chlorinated, which means that any lightning that strikes electrical components connected to a pool can still pose serious water and electricity safety risks.
Are Indoor Pools Any Safer?
While swimming pool areas are generally small and may not take a direct hit, the surrounding area where a storm currently is can be quite large. This generally means that surrounding phone and power lines can be struck, as well as any plumbing in and around pools, even if they’re indoors. Even if a pool is indoors, its connection to outside plumbing makes it unsafe during any electrical storm.
Schedule Annual Inspections With a Licensed Electrician
No matter how often you enjoy your pool, you can minimize swimming hazards, water and electricity safety concerns by getting your swimming pool or spa inspected annually. This ensures the safety of your patio or deck area surrounding the pool as well as all the electrical devices that power the pool’s filtration and lighting.
Whenever you have your pool inspected by an electrician, be sure they check the following:
- All electrical equipment, including heating, filtration systems, and pumps
- All electrical above-ground wiring leading to and from the pool area.
- All underwater wiring in the pool area
- All underwater and above ground lighting in the pool area
- Control panels for swimming pool and spa equipment
- The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
Keep Your Pool Safe From One Season to the Next
A Safe Pool has over 15 years of expertise installing custom pool safety and maintenance products known for their comprehensive warranties and long-lasting quality.
We specialize in the following:
- Pool Safety Fences (with Self-Closing, Self-Latching, Lockable Gates)
- Pool Safety Nets
- Pool Safety Mesh Covers
- Automatic Pool Covers
- Leaf Pool Covers
- Pool Alarms
With unmatched professional knowledge and a wide range of products, we’re confident that we’re the pool safety experts ready to help your family. We want to help pool owners create safe environments where their families can relax and have fun, and that starts by having the best line-up of pool safety equipment ready to minimize any pool and electricity water safety risks.