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Swimming Pools: The hidden hazards of electric shock

On April 27, 2014, three children were swimming in the pool of their condominium complex in Hialeah, Florida, with their family members supervising them from the area alongside the pool. Suddenly, one of the children goes limp in the water immediately after touching the metal railing near the steps in the shallow end. Her father rushes in to grab her, stops as he is shocked, then continues forward and pulls her to safety. The two other children in the pool also go limp, and two other adults rush to save them, risking electric shock in doing so. Ultimately, everyone survived, but the three children spent four nights in the hospital. One month earlier, a seven-year-old boy in the same area was not so fortunate. He was killed by an electric shock while swimming in his family’s pool.

What happened in these cases? There were no storms in the area producing lightning or downed power lines. So what caused the pool water to become charged with lethal electricity? Your Denver personal injury attorney cautions that since 1990, 60 electrocutions and nearly 50 serious electrical shocks involving electrical hazards in and around swimming pools have occurred. 

In the condominium complex case, an investigation concluded that the electric shock was due to an improperly grounded pool pump that malfunctioned and electrified the water. In the case of the family pool, the electric shock was caused by a faulty pool light. In addition to these electrical sources, other pool equipments such as filters and vacuums, extension and power cords, electrical outlets or switches, radios stereos, televisions, and other electrical appliances near and around pools are common causes of electric shocks in pools.

Your Denver personal injury attorney points out that tragically, electric shocks can result from the failure to install basic but essential electrical protective devices. In a 2013 case filed by a family against a Houston area Hilton Hotel for gross negligence, a young man lost his life by going in electrically-charged water to save his younger brother. An investigation showed that the shock was caused by the failure to install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) which would have cut off power to the pool lights in case of an electrical malfunction. In addition to failing to install such basic equipment, the pool had not met electrical codes for years, and new equipment had been installed without obtaining the proper permits from the City of Houston.

To avoid such catastrophic accidents when in or around swimming pools remember to follow these three steps: (1) Inspection: make sure aging equipment is functioning properly and not corroded; (2) Detection: make sure all pool equipment is protected by GFCIs; and (3) Correction: remove electrical hazards in and around pools, such as electrical appliances (televisions and radios) and their cords that can fall into the water. 

If you have suffered an electric shock at a pool, and you would like to learn more about your legal rights pertaining to the incident, contact your Denver personal injury attorney Jordan Levine at Levine Law today.

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