Water and Electricity Don’t Mix
West Kentucky RECC reminds members of electrical dangers around pools and lakes
All winter you’ve waited to open your pool, bring out the boats and soak up the sun! But before you dive into all the summer fun, West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative reminds you that dangers can lurk inside pools and lakes. Remember: water and electricity don’t mix!
Safety in or around pools
It’s easy to hop out of the pool and not think about turning up the radio or jumping in and making a huge splash all over electrical appliances. But doing so can be dangerous. Instead, use battery-operated appliances or waterproof covers for items near the pool when possible. This way, you and your family can enjoy the day without worry of electrical shock.
If someone in the pool feels electricity (almost like a stinging feeling) or appears to have been shocked, do not dive in—you could be shocked, too! Instead, turn off all the power to the pool and use a non-metal shepherd’s hook to pull him or her out of the water to safety. (If you do not know which circuit breakers go to your pool, make a note now to find out before you need to know.)
Safety in or around lakes/rivers
Western Kentucky has an abundance of beautiful lakes and rivers. From playing by the beach, fishing or taking the boat out for the day, fun activities abound. But safety risks go hand-in-hand with the fun.
Avoid swimming or going in the water near boats plugged into shore power or docks with electrical services. If you are in the water and feel electricity, stay calm and swim to shore if you can but do not touch a metal ladder or any other metal objects.
If someone is in the water and is shocked, do not jump in. Turn off the power source and use an insulated device to attempt to remove him/her from the water. Electrical shock can cause paralysis and the victim will need assistance immediately.
When fishing on a dock, boat or just simply steering a boat, keep a distance of at least 10 feet between your fishing pole or boat and nearby power lines. If your boat comes in contact with a line, stay in the boat and avoid touching anything metal until the boat drifts away or help arrives.
Staying safe while near the water is simple but these tips can be easily forgotten. So, check out the tips on the following page and create a checklist for your family and friends to review before jumping in the deep end. If you have questions, call West Kentucky RECC at 1-877-495-7322.
Electric Shock Drowning
What it is: Occurs when marina or onboard electrical systems leak electric current into the water. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis and drowning.
How to avoid:
- Locate and label all power switches to pool, hot tub and spa equipment and lighting.
- Make sure all pools are 25 feet away from power lines.
- All wiring and repairs should be performed by a licensed electrician.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFICs).
- Maintain 10 feet between boats and power lines when in the water.
What to do if you see electric shock drowning
- Do not enter the water.
- Turn off the power source.
- Use an insulated device to attempt to remove the person from the water.
- Call 911 immediately.
5 Tips for Boat Owners
- Swimming Safety: Never swim near the boat, marina or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock drowning.
- Put it to the Test: Be sure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and equipment leakage circuit interrupters (ELCIs) should be tested monthly to ensure functionality. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.
- Use the Right Tool: Never use household cords near water. Use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL Marine Listed” when using electricity near water.
- Know Your Surroundings: Know where your main breaker(s) are located on both the boat and the shore power source so you can respond quickly in case of an emergency. Be aware of any potential electrical hazards by checking for nearby power lines before boating, fishing or swimming.
- Learn the Code: Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician to be sure it meets your local and state National Electrical Code (NEC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) safety codes and standards.