Stay safe in pools and hot tubs

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Water is a powerful conductor of electricity. It is especially important to be aware of electrical hazards around water. As temperatures soar this week, University of Illinois Extension provides these safety tips for pools and hot tubs. 

  • Do not touch electrical equipment when wet.
  • Do not place electrical appliances near pools or hot tubs. Use battery operated appliances, rather than electrical, near swimming pools.
  • Any electrical outlets within 20 feet of a pool or hot tub should be equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GCFI). A GFCI monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit. If there is an irregularity of electrical flow, the power is cut off, preventing an electric shock. GFCIs are recommended anywhere water and electricity may meet.
  • Know where electrical switches and circuit breakers are for pool and hot tub equipment, and know how to operate them. Do not operate switches and circuit breakers when wet or if standing in water.
  • Pools and decks should be built at least 5 feet away from all underground electrical lines and at least 25 feet away from overhead electrical lines.
  • When cleaning the pool, know where any overhead power lines are to avoid making contact with them while using long-handled tools like a pool skimmer.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment for pools and hot tubs is grounded.
  • Have a qualified electrician inspect, repair, and upgrade your swimming pool or hot tub so it is in accordance with the National Electrical Code.
  • Watch the forecast and make sure you are inside if a thunderstorm approaches. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning before returning outdoors.
  • If a swimmer is getting shocked, don’t dive in yourself or you could be in trouble as well. Turn off the power at the source, and then use a fiberglass shepherd’s hook to pull the victim out of the water.
  • Pool owners should have an emergency plan posted in plain view in the pool area with instructions on how to assist someone who is suffering an electrical shock.


SOURCE: Erin Hollinshead, Executive Director, Safe Electricity

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

ABOUT SAFE ELECTRICITY: Safe Electricity is the award-winning, public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, a 501(c) 3 (not-for-profit organization) established in 1952 on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With offices located in Springfield, Ill., Safe Electricity operates under University of Illinois Extension and is led by the EEC Board of Directors. Since the Safe Electricity program was created in 2001, it has provided thousands safety-minded resources to its more than 500 utility members from across the country to help save lives and reduce injuries.