Water and Electricity Don’t Mix: Be Safe While Swimming and Boating this Fourth of July

Raleigh, N.C. On a hot North Carolina summer day nothing seems better than going down to the lake or hopping in the pool to cool off. Before you grab your bathing suit, remember…water and electricity don’t mix. So whether it’s avoiding power lines while boating or keeping electric plugs and cords away from the pool, it is always important to think about safety when beating the heat.

Power lines are the cause for some of the most tragic and preventable boating accidents. A boat can either strike a power line or in certain conditions (such as high humidity and close proximity) the boat doesn’t have to touch a power line to send a current of electricity through it. Here are some simple Touchstone Energy Tips suggested by the US Coast Guard on how to stay safe while boating:

  • Always be aware when hauling your boat and make sure the mast never touches any overhead power lines. Never raise the mast or an antenna near a power line.
  • Transmission lines that cross boating areas are also dangerous. If the top of a mast or an antenna should come close to one of these power lines, the electrical current may be strong enough to bridge the gap and flow to the boat. Even if you have gone under the lines previously, it doesn’t guarantee that they are safe. The water level may rise from tides or flooding or the lines may expand and sag from heat.
  • Always make sure you have an up-to-date chart with you and that you know the distance from your boat’s waterlines to the masthead. Usually, power lines that span bodies of water have the minimum clearance between their lowest point and the highest waterline mark indicated on charts or signs that approach them. Make sure you know these clearance distances!
  • Be observant for downed or sagging lines following storms or high winds. Also check to see if the area is marked with a special hazard buoy or sign.
  • Should your boat come in contact with a power line, DO NOT enter the water. The electrical charge will pass through your boat and remain in the surrounding water. The best thing to do is stay low in the boat and avoid touching any metal fixtures.
  • If your boat does come in contact with a power line while you are on open water, call the Coast Guard for help.

Safety must also be observed around the pool. Faulty wiring in and around the actual pool or allowing things with cords and wires in the pool area could create a potentially harmful situation. Here are some helpful Touchstone Energy tips suggested by the American Red Cross on how to stay safe when at the pool:

  • Refrain from swimming before, during or after thunderstorms.
  • Have an electrician who is qualified in pool and spa repairs inspect and upgrade your pool, spa or hot tub so that it meets local codes and the National Electrical Code (NEC).
  • Ensure that all electrical wires and junction boxes are at least five feet away from water.
  • Use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around a pool, spa, or hot tub.
  • Post an emergency plan within clear view of those using the pool.
  • Ensure that overhead power lines and junction boxes are safely positioned when installing a new pool, hot tub or spa.

By practicing these tips and being aware of your surroundings you’ll be sure that your pool or boat is a safe and relaxing place to hang out this summer.