There are an ungodly number of things to worry about when you’re raising kids and they like swimming. One of them is electric shock drowning (ESD), as can result from an improperly installed pool light. A heartbreaking TODAY story from July shows why. As TODAY writes, a nine-year-old girl “was swimming at her father’s house in Citrus Heights, California, when she was electrocuted by a wire attached to an underwater pool light that was under repair.”
Tragically, an incredibly similar thing happened to my friend Chris Sloan’s seven-year-old son in 2014. Calder drowned in the family pool after an encounter with electricity. There was an electrical short in a wire running electricity to a pool light, and the wire “had not been connected in the home’s electrical box, and the home’s ground rod was missing.” In an instant, Chris and his wife Carla lost their boy. Chris later created a charity called Caleb & Calder Sloan’s Awesome Foundation. I recommend supporting it.
The killer in these terrible two stories is electric shock drowning (ESD), and it’s a real danger. So how do you lower your risk? For starters, the ESDPA offers tips on its website for preventing electric shock drowning. Among them:
- Never swim in or around docks, marinas or boats using electricity
- If you feel “tingly” while swimming in a lake or pool, get out immediately and turn off any source of electricity that could be seeping into the water
And here’s one more: Make sure that the pool lights are installed correctly. Check and doublecheck, and if it’s not your pool, ask questions. Chris, for one, has pushed for lower-voltage lights in pools, because the voltage matters. And above all, be aware that the risk of electric shock downing is real.
More pool safety
- Use an “On Guard Card” When Around Water With Young Children
- Don’t Go Swimming With an Open Wound
- Don’t Swim with Clothes On
- Swim Within the Lifeguard Flags or Near Lifeguard Stands
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