At this point, most of our readers should know about the dangers of electrical shock in water. We’ve written about the dangers of electric shock drowning in the past. That said, is there a way to test for electrical current in the water? In today’s post, we’ll talk about how a live electrical current can get into the water… and how you can detect and avoid it.
How Does an Electrical Current Affect the Water?If there’s one thing we all know, it is that water and electricity should not mix. Of course, “should” is the optimal word here. There is always a potential risk, so it pays to understand the danger. At a basic level, any electrical current over 0.5 volts can be felt by people and animals (Remember, animals love to break into pools, so make sure to install a pool fence!). The voltage can also quickly climb much higher, which can be dangerous and even fatal. The goal when you test for electrical current in water is to get that voltage down to zero. Water is highly conductive for electricity. If AC current or stray voltage is present, then a swimmer could accidentally close a circuit by touching a handrail and be electrocuted.
Protect Swimmers from Shocking SituationsPut simply, electric shock drowning is a catchall phrase for any situation in which an electric shock injures or kills a swimmer. In a great deal of these situations, the first jolt can easily be fatal. However, this is not always the case. Other times, the person being shocked by the current will simply be incapacitated, losing control of their body. People who find themselves in this dangerous situation can drown. Drowning can often be silent. Electric shock drowning is even stealthier. In most situations, if the incident doesn’t have any witnesses, it may be difficult to know that electricity was even involved in the incident. This is because electric shock drowning resembles any other form of drowning.
Typical Causes of Stray AC Currents in Water:It is important to test for electrical current in water because the culprit can be any number of things. This voltage can be caused by:
- Poorly wired lights or equipment
- Improper grounds or bonds
- Damaged wiring
- Using the wrong type of lights near or under the water. To learn more, see our article on lighting safety.