What’s the best safety device to prevent pool electrocution?

These can shut off in less than 1/30 of a second to stop a pool electrocution from happening

Pool Electrocution GFCI

If you’re a homeowner with a backyard pool, you’ve no doubt waited — patiently or impatiently — for summer to come.

But when was the last time you had the inner mechanisms of the pool inspected? Or are you a new homeowner who’s now ready to enjoy that pool or hot tub? If so, now’s a good time for a safety check, because pool electrocution happens, and every year people are electrocuted and killed in swimming pools and hot tubs.

The risk of electrocution can be just one mechanical or human slip-up away. The good news is much of the risk and danger of electrocution can be eliminated.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says frequent causes of pool electrocution include:

  • Aging electrical wiring that hasn’t been inspected in years
  • Outdoor appliances that aren’t grounded
  • Electrical appliances such as TVs and radios and extension cords coming into contact with pool water
  • Faulty underwater lighting

As an electrocution attorney, I know that each of these hazards present an even greater risk if the lighting, circuits and nearby receptacles are not protected by ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs). According to the CPSC, these are the best safety device to prevent electrocution.

How do GFCIs help with preventing pool electrocution?

GFCIs will automatically cut electrical power to an appliance when it senses that the electrical current flowing through the outlet/device has found an unintended route (that is, through water or a person).

These outlets are considered the best safety device for electrocution prevention by the CPSC because they shut off in less than 1/30 of a second to prevent electrocution. This is why most hair dryers have a built-in GFCI on their plugs.

Make sure that you plug all outdoor appliances into GFCI outlets and ensure that all outlets have weatherproof outdoor covers. These will protect the outlet from rain and splashing, even snow if the outlet is used in the winter.

Your GFCIs should be tested monthly to assure continued protection. Infrequently used and portable or cord-connected GFCIs should be tested before each day’s use.

To test a GFCI:

  • Plug a nightlight into the outlet and turn the nightlight on.
  • Press the “Test” button. Did the light go out? If not, replace the GFCI or have it inspected by an electrician.
  • Press the “Reset” button. Did the light come back on? If not, replace the GFCI.
  • Wear shoes while conducting the test, especially if outdoors or standing on wet ground.

Contact an electrician about installing a GFCI in your backyard if you don’t already have one.

Other ways to stay safe from pool electrocution?

Make sure you know where the electrical switches and circuit breakers for pool equipment and lights are located, and be familiar with how to turn them off in an emergency. This is crucial, as waiting even a few extra seconds to turn them off could be the different between life and death.

An electrician who is qualified in pool and spa repairs should inspect and upgrade your pool, spa or hot tub in accordance with applicable local codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC).

All electrical wires and junction boxes should be at least 5 feet away from water, as required by the NEC.

And when it comes to things that will liven up the pool experience, make sure you use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around the pool. A battery falling into water won’t cause an electrocution, whereas a live current going through a cord will.

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