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Pools and lakes pose electrical safety risks 

Tips to be aware of before you go swimming or boating

BEFORE YOU DIVE INTO THE SUMMER FUN of swimming and boating in lakes and splashing in pools, remember that water and electricity don’t mix. 

Near pools, use battery-operated appliances or waterproof covers for items when possible. Never use household cords near water. 

If someone in the pool feels electricity (almost like a stinging feeling) or appears to have been shocked, do not dive in—you could be shocked, too. Instead, turn off all the power to the pool and use a non-metal shepherd’s hook to pull the person out of the water to safety. Know where the pool circuit breakers are in advance. 

Safety in or around lakes/rivers 

Safety risks go hand-in-hand with playing by the beach, fishing or taking the boat out for the day on Kentucky waterways. 

Avoid swimming or going in the water near boats plugged into shore power or docks with electrical services. If you are in the water and feel electricity, stay calm and swim to shore if you can, but do not touch a metal ladder or any other metal objects. 

If someone is in the water and is shocked, follow the same course as you would in a pool: Do not jump in. Turn off the power source and use an insulated device to try to get the person out of the water. Electrical shock can cause paralysis and the victim will need assistance immediately, so call 911. 

Boating electrical safety 

When fishing on a dock, boat or just simply steering a boat, keep at least 10 feet between your fishing pole or boat and nearby power lines. If your boat comes in contact with a line, stay in the boat and avoid touching anything metal until the boat drifts away or help arrives. 

Be sure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. A certified marine electrician can make sure the electrical system meets various safety codes and standards. Test the boat’s ground fault circuit interrupters and equipment leakage circuit interrupters monthly. 

BRENT WASSON is the Occupational Safety and Health Specialist at East Kentucky Power Cooperative. 

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