Water and electricity create a dangerous combination
As temperatures warm up during the late spring and summer months, many people head to Coosa Valley’s abundant water sources for relaxation.
Several will enhance their water activities by using devices like radios or TVs that require power. But the combination of water and electricity can be dangerous — and deadly — if people do not take proper precautions.
Any electrical device should be kept safely away from water sources. Should they contact the water while still energized, it could generate enough shock to injure someone.
The Energy Education Council recommends keeping electrical devices at least 10 feet away from a pool and use battery power wherever possible.
Additionally, several expert organizations recommend installing all pools, spas and hot tubs at least 25 feet from overhead power lines to reduce electrocution risk.
One of the largest electrocution threats is lightning. Water is a natural conductor of electricity, enhancing chances a lightning strike can injure a person.
Once a person hears thunder or sees a lightning strike, they should shelter inside. According to the National Weather Service, lightning can be seen from as far as 10 miles away — the exact potential reach of one lightning bolt. Additionally, thunder can be heard from 10 miles away, indicating a threat is nearby.
Death by Drowning?
Electricity can lead to another type of death in certain situations: drowning.
Electric Shock Drowning occurs when an electrical shock causes paralysis of muscles, leading to drowning. The risk of ESD is why the National Electrical Code has required the use of ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets at all marinas and boatyards since 2017.
Other Prevention Tips
To keep summer fun safe, the Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends:
- Installing GFCI outlets near any water source.
- Hiring a qualified electrician to inspect any pool, spa or hot tub annually.
- Using a qualified electrician to perform any wiring or electrical repairs around water sources.
May is National Electrical Safety Month. For more tips, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International website.