Don’t swim in shocks: Children’s water safety in and around pools


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Electricity and water don’t mix.

Dr. Shannon Cohen, a physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, says electric shock injuries and deaths around pools, spas, and lakes are more common than most may think.

Electricity can be found everywhere from boat docks to electric pool equipment. Dr. Cohen says electric shock drowning is called the silent killer because it may not be obvious that someone is suffering an electric jolt before they go under the water.

Injuries caused by electric shock, according to Dr. Cohen, include electrocution, drowning, cardiac arrest, muscle, nerve and tissue damage and thermal burns. She said the severity depends on the voltage of electricity and how long a child is exposed.

If swimmers feel a tingling sensation and/or muscle cramps, Dr. Cohen says that may be a sign they are experiencing an electric shock. She said swimmers may not be able to move at all or they may feel like someone is holding them in place.

She also said bystanders may notice motionless swimmers in the water or others actively moving away from a specific area.

  • What to do
    • Immediately turn off all power if possible before attempting to rescue someone
    • Don’t jump in or touch swimmer because a rescuer can quickly become a victim too
    • Use a fiberglass Shepherd’s hook or something that will not conduct an electric current (a large limb or wooden broom may work) to rescue someone
    • Call 911
    • Perform CPR if needed until help arrives

    Dr. Cohen says prevention is key. Never swim around docks, keep pools and spas maintained and have lights checked yearly to be sure they are in good working order.

    For more information:

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