As the nation kicked off summer 2016, two more pool shocks were reported.
Occurring over the Memorial Day weekend, one incident involved a child, the other an adult; one took place in a residential pool, the other commercial. Neither resulted in a fatality.
At a home in Silver Spring Township, Pa., eight children were playing in a backyard pool when somebody flipped an external switch that turned on the underwater light. The children felt the current, but seven were able to escape unharmed. The eighth, located toward the middle of the pool, could not leave, said Sgt. Jared Huff of the Silver Spring Township Police Department. Fire officials suspected she may have been grounded by holding onto a metal ladder or touching the walls or floor. Adults were able to remove her.
When police arrived, the child had suffered cardiac arrest, and firefighters were administering CPR. Rescuers revived the child with a defibrillator, after which she was transported to a hospital and listed in critical condition. At press time, she was still in the hospital, was conscious and had been upgraded to stable condition.
“Normally you think pools and hot tubs are a safe place to play,” Huff said. “I think the primary thing is when you get them installed or you get work done to them, you have to make sure you have a credible contractor.” Pennsylvania does issue registration numbers to contractors, he said. But it isn’t yet known if installation defects caused of this incident. The fire and codes departments are investigating the cause.
Over that same weekend, a 34-year-old man was shocked in a motel pool in Wildwood Crest, N.J. As the police understand it, the man was sitting on the edge of the pool, when current from a pole he was touching shocked him, causing him to fall in the water, said Det. Sgt. Edward Gorski of the Wildwood Crest Police Department. After seeing the man face down, others tried to rescue him.
It wasn’t immediately known what was wrong with the man. “Initially, I just thought it was another unfortunate pool mishap or maybe an illness,” Gorski said. Eventually, a maintenance worker shut off the power, and he and another motel guest pulled the man out and performed CPR. At press time, two weeks after the incident, the man remained in critical condition.
It is suspected a faulty wire from a nearby lamp post caused the stray current. The pool had no light, Gorski said. After the incident, the pool was closed and the motel owner has commissioned an independent investigation, but the city will not. “It looks like an accident, and that’s how it’s being closed,” Gorski said.
This is the third high-profile pool electrical incident to occur this year. The first incident involved two pool shocks and an electrocution, which is fatal. On Easter, 43-year-old James Tramel died after rescuing his daughter from an electrified pool. He removed her from the pool, set her on the deck, then collapsed. The child was hospitalized with serious injuries.
The issue of electrical safety in pools and spas has become more of a target for the press, as well as certain government entities. Florida continues to address it after the death of a 7-year-old boy in his own backyard pool. Two counties there — Miami-Dade and Broward — have required low-voltage lighting as a result of advocacy by the boy’s father. After a failed attempt in 2015 to legislate similar requirements statewide, another bill passed this year creating a task force to consider changes to Florida’s building code to safeguard pools and spas from electrical hazards. In addition to submitting proposals for public comment, the group is sponsoring an educational piece for consumers about avoiding electrical hazards in pools and spas.