The combination of water and electricity can create dangerous and unintended paths of electrical current. Depending on the amount of current, the duration of exposure, and the current path through the body, electrical exposures can result in a broad range of injuries, from minor tingling to severe burns or death.
This article discusses some of the electrical safety requirements relevant to pools, spas, and fountains.
Electrical Shocks at Swimming Pools - Expert Article
Electrical shock injuries in and around swimming pools are especially dangerous because otherwise survivable incidents can result in deadly drownings. As a result of the hazard and potential exposure, the National Electrical Code (NEC) sets forth additional requirements for electrical installations near swimming pools, spas, and fountains. These requirements include specifications for:
Electrical Clearances – Minimum distance requirements are established for overhead power conductors, overhead communication lines, and underground wiring. Clearance requirements for overhead lines are relative to the maximum water level, pool surround, diving surfaces, or observation stands. Underground clearances are generally relative to the wall of the pool.
Equipotential Bonding – Bonding creates a conductive link between electrical and metallic components of the pool structure (e.g. ladders, handrails, lighting) and other pool system components (e.g. pumps, heaters). In the event of a failure in the electrical system, this conductive link provides a low impedance path for the current to flow and trip the breaker, rather than electrifying the water or other surfaces. It also limits the voltage difference between exposed surfaces, and minimizes the risk of electrical shock injury.
Ground Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI) Protection – GFCIs are fast-acting circuit breakers designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault. They work by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors.
The electrical engineers at Robson Forensic have investigated a variety electrical shock incidents that have occurred at pools, lakes, and water front facilities.
Investigating Electrocutions & Electrical Shock Injuries
The electrical engineers at Robson Forensic regularly investigate electrical shock injuries and electrocutions to determine their cause. These investigations typically include an evaluation of products and equipment installations to determine if they are in accordance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC).
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Electrical Engineer & Electrical Fires Expert
Daryl is a licensed Professional Engineer who completed an electrician’s apprenticeship and worked as a Journeyman Electrician in the trade for eight years prior to becoming an engineer. Parallel to his forensic casework, Daryl remains active in the trade, designing and programing control systems such as electronic circuits and processor controls. Daryl earned his degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University. He is a Professional Engineer in more than thirty states and the District of Columbia.