Don't Swim with Shocks: Electrical Safety In and Around Pools, Hot Tubs & Spas

What is the problem?

CPSC has reports of 14 deaths related to electrocutions in swimming pools from 2003 to 2014. Hot tubs and spas may present the same electrical hazards as swimming pools.

What is electrocution?

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

Where would I find electricity around pools, hot tubs and spas?

  • underwater lights
  • electric pool equipment -- pumps, filters, vacuum, etc.
  • extension and power cords
  • electrical outlets or switches
  • radios, stereos, TVs and other electrical products
  • overhead power lines

How do I know if I or someone else may be receiving an electrical shock?

  • Swimmers may feel a tingling sensation, experience muscle cramps, and/or not be able to move at all and/or feel as if something is holding them in place.
  • You may see unsettled or panic behavior by others in the water, one or more passive or motionless swimmer in the water, swimmers actively moving away from a specific area or from a motionless swimmer, and/or underwater lights that are not working property (e.g. lights are on when they should not be on, lights flickering), the pool operator or lifeguard received earlier complaints of tingling or other odd sensations.

What should I do if I think I'm being shocked while in the water?

  • Move away from the source of the shock.
  • Get out of the water. If possible, exit without using a metal ladder. Touching a metal ladder may increase the risk of shock.

What should I do if I think someone in the water is experiencing an electrical shock?

  • Immediately turn off all power. If the power is not turned off, rescuers can also become victims.
  • Call or have someone else call 9-1-1.

The American Red Cross also recommends:

  • Using a fiberglass Shepherd's crook/rescue hook, extend your reach to the victim and then follow these steps:   Brace yourself on the pool deck and extend the Shepherd's crook/rescue hook toward the victim. If the victim cannot grasp the Shepherd's crook/rescue hook, use the loop to encircle the victim's body and pull him or her, face-up, to the edge;
  • Carefully remove the victim from the water;
  • Position the victim on his or her back;
  • Check the victim for breathing and, if the victim is not breathing, give two rescue breaths;
  • Check the victim for signs of circulation (normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to rescue breaths) and if there are no signs of circulation, begin CPR. If there are signs of circulation, begin rescue breathing.

Ways to Protect Yourself and Others from Shock and Electrocution

CPSC 519 062014