NFPA warns of electric shock hazards in pools and marinas

NFPA warns of electric shock hazards in pools and marinas
source: Raycom Media

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - For many, summertime means swimming or boating.

With that in mind, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding people about the potential electrical hazards in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, on board boats and in waters surrounding boats, marinas and launch ramps.

Electric shock drowning happens when faulty wiring sends an electrical current into the water.

The current passes through the body and causes paralysis.

When this happens, a person can no longer swim and ultimately drowns.

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NFPA offers the following tips to avoid electric shock drowning:

  • Never swim near a marina, dock or boatyard, or near a boat while it's running.
  • Check pools, hot tubs or spas for underwater lights not working properly.
  • If you feel a tingling sensation while swimming in a pool, immediately stop swimming in your current direction.  Try and swim in a direction you had not felt the tingling.  Exit the water as quickly as possible and avoid using metal ladders or rails.
  • If you are putting in a new pool, hot tub or spa, be sure wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
  • Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and replace or upgrade the electrical devices that keep your pool, spa or hot tub safe.
  • Make sure overhead lines maintain proper distance from a pool or diving board.  If in doubt, contact an electrician or your local utility company.
  • Avoid entering the water when launching or loading a boat.  Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water.

Each year, and after a major storm, have the boat's electrical system inspected by a qualified marine electrician.  Check with the marina owner if the marina's system has recently been inspected to meet required codes, including the National Electrical Code.

Have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) installed on the boat.  Use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords that are "UL-Marine Listed" when using electricity near water.  Test GFCIs monthly.

For additional resources, including tip sheets and checklists, visit www.nfpa.org/watersafety.

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