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Fire Department

Posted on: August 6, 2021

Electrical safety near swimming pools, hot tubs and spas

Young girl sitting on a pool edge splashing water with her feet

Source: National Fire Protection Association

For many of us, water activities equal fun. But it’s important to be aware of electrical hazards while enjoying the water. Know how to be safe around swimming pools, hot tubs and spas.

  • If you're installing a new pool, hot tub or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
  • Outdoor receptacles must have covers that keep them dry even when appliances are plugged in.
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are special devices designed to protect against electric shock and electrocution. They're required for most pool, spa or hot tub equipment. They may be in the form of an outlet or a circuit breaker. Test the GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Electrical appliances, equipment and cords should stay at least 6 feet away from the water. When possible, use battery operated appliances and equipment such as televisions, radios and stereos.
  • Avoid handling electrical devices when you're wet.
  • Make sure any overhead lines maintain the proper distance over a pool and other structures, such as a diving board. If unsure, contact a qualified electrician or your local utility company to make sure power lines are a safe distance away.
  • Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and, where necessary, replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool, spa or hot tub electrically safe.
  • Have a qualified electrician show you how to turn off all power in case of an emergency.
  • Download and print these tips.

Know the risks of electrical shock

Electrocution is death by an electrical shock. Be aware when skin is wet or when surrounding surfaces, such as the grass or pool deck, are wet. Wet skin or wet surfaces can greatly increase the chance of electrocution when electricity is present.

There are several signs of electrical shock. Swimmers may feel one or more of the following:

  • Tingling sensation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Inability to move; feeling as if something is holding him/her in place

What to do if you someone else is being shocked

If you think someone in the water is being shocked, turn off all power, but do not attempt to go in the water. Use a fiberglass hook (or another type of rescue hook that doesn't conduct electricity) to help the swimmer. Have someone call 9-1-1.

If you think you're being shocked while in the water, move away from the source of the shock, and then get out of the water.

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