Feature Article - April 2006
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Safe Swimming

Managing risk at aquatic facilities

By Kyle Ryan

Shocking situations

Although it has become less prevalent, electrocution is still a threat. Griffiths sees them every year, but Evans has never had one in the programs he insures. The threat can come from underwater lighting fixtures to lightning, and the ways to address it obviously differ.

As a general safety precaution, Griffiths recommends facilities have their bonding and fixtures inspected by a licensed electrician every five years. Bonding is when all the metal parts of a facility are connected to a common copper wire buried in the ground and connected to a reinforced steel structure. It reduces the voltage gradient around the facility and helps reduce the effects of lightning.

Speaking of lightning, Dworkin suggests pool evacuation at the first indication of it—even indoors. Several states—North Dakota, South Dakota, Maryland, Rhode Island and Michigan—recommend indoor-pool evacuation at the first indication of lightning. Delaware has a law mandating it. Griffiths describes such precautions as "asinine."

"I believe that, if your pool is grounded and you're indoors," he says, "and you passed your electrical inspection, and it's done on a regular basis, that it's literally safer for people to be swimming in an indoor pool during a lightning storm than closing the pool and having those swimmers under shower heads, on toilets, on telephones, in front of computers or having their parents drive in a storm to pick them up."