The recent news of the electrocution of five people in a water park in Turkey has once again highlighted the need to be alert to the dangers that electricity present in the presence of water. You may think that high voltage is to blame when you hear reports of a swimmer getting electrocuted in a body of water. In fact, there are various poor practices that can place pool users at risk!
Electrocution has been a real concern ever since pool pumps and pool lights have been incorporated into bodies of water that are used recreationally. In this post, we will talk about pool lights. They are certainly easy to point the finger at since they are immersed in water.
In the United States, many pools utilise incandescent pool lighting powered by 120 volts. These lights are present in many residential pools and most commercial pool environments. If installed properly with a routinely tested GFCI, these types of fixtures are considered safe. Low voltage lighting utilising 12 volts is an alternative, but are not to be considered foolproof. Like any electrical component, if not installed properly, a shock could occur.
Fortunately, in part because of the energy-efficiency movement, LED lights powered through solid state technology utilise low voltage, and many don’t require a ground wire, eliminating a path for current to make its way into the water.
It’s important when hiring someone to work on your pool, whether it’s the light fixture, pump, heat pump, automation system, chlorine generator, wiring, etc. that you look for someone with the proper skill set. What are their qualifications? Have they attended manufacturers’ seminars on installation best practices? Are they proponents of further education? How many years do they have in the swimming pool industry?
Here is what you can do to protect yourself and whoever uses the pool: If you’re concerned, have your pool system inspected by a qualified professional. They can take a holistic approach and look at all pool components, as there may be problems related to damaged or inadequate bonding in concrete vessels, or there may be a problem somewhere else that could potentially lead to current entering the water. Unfortunately, we have seen hundreds of cases where pumps or other electrical components have not been installed incorrectly. The opportunity for serious mistakes comes with the repair or installation of pool lights or equipment. Do your research and hire a professional. Safety should be your highest concern!