August 2014 - page 10

Florida Pool Pro
• August 2014
Pool rules:
Establishing the necessary level of
electrical safety for swimming pools
By Jeff Sargent / Reprinted with permission of NFPA Journal
The dog days of summer are here. Temperatures hover in the 90s, the
humidity is off the charts, and meteorologists evoke beads of perspiration as
they tell us the “heat index” is approaching Death Valley levels. Seeking refuge
from the heat, millions of Americans dive into home or municipal swimming
pools. Electrical safety is the last thought on their minds, but recent incidents
have created a heightened awareness of the importance of the
Electrical Code® (NEC®)
in making sure the pool visit is safe as well as
enjoyable. Failure to follow
requirements for electrical installations around
swimming pools can lead to tragic results.
Last August, a 27-year-old Texas man was swimming with his family in a
Houston-area hotel swimming pool. According to a report published in the
Houston Chronicle
, people swimming in the pool “complained of being shocked”
when the underwater pool lights came on. Noticing a child in distress in the
deep end of the pool, the man swam to the child and helped him safely out of
the pool. However, he was not as lucky and could not escape the “energized”
pool water on this own. Rescuers pulled him out, but he went into cardiac
arrest. First aid was administered at the scene and he was transported to a
local hospital. He died six days later, a victim of electrocution, according to
the medical examiner.
Investigation of this accident by the City of Houston and the Texas
Department of Licensing and Regulation led to a determination that “shoddy”
electrical work recently performed by licensed electricians resulted in the pool
being electrically unsafe. The investigation determined that the circuit supplying
the underwater light did not have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection.
requirements for equipotential bonding in the pool area—
meaning all conductive objects, such as ladders, lighting fixtures, and diving
boards, are connected to minimize a voltage difference between them—had
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