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

What is the problem?

Since 2002, CPSC is aware of 33 fatalities that involved electrocutions in swimming pools and spas.

Shock-related Pool and Spa Incidents, 2002-2018*  
Year Incidents involving Injury/Death Injuries Deaths        
2002 4 2 2        
2003 3 1 2        
2004 2 0 2        
2005 3 0 3        
2006 2 1 1        
2007 4 4 2        
2008 1 0 1        
2009 2 1 1        
2010 3 1 2        
2011 2 1 1        
2012 2 1 2        
2013 3 5 2        
2014 4 4 2        
2015 3 2 1        
2016 5 9 2        
2017 4 1 7        
2018 0 0 0        
Total for              
2010-2018 47 33 33        
* There were 23 deaths from electrocutions in pools and spas from 2002-2014.
Two fatal incidents from 2013-2014 were received in 2015. No injuries or deaths due to electrocutions in pools and spas were identified in 2018.

Source: Data from CPSC’s Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System (CPSRMS) database and compiled by CPSC’s Office of Epidemiology. Shock-Related Pool and Spa Incidents; Date of Incident: 2002 – 2018.


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 the victim, face-up, to the edge;
  • Carefully remove the victim from the water.

If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally, individuals nearby should:

  1. Place the person on their back on a firm, flat surface. Kneel beside the person.
  2. If trained in CPR, begin CPR by performing cycles of 30 chest compressions followed by 2 ventilations. If untrained in CPR, perform Hands-Only CPR.
  3. Continue to perform CPR until:
    • You notice an obvious sign of life.
    • An AED is ready to use and no other trained responders are available to assist you with the AED.
    • You have performed approximately 2 minutes of CPR (5 cycles of 30:2) and another trained responder is available to take over compressions.
    • EMS personnel take over.
    • You are alone and too tired to continue.
    • The scene becomes unsafe.

Visit for first aid and CPR training information and class schedules.

Download the high resolution Don’t Swim With Shocks safety poster.

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