Electrical safety tips for water activities

For so many of us, water activities equal fun. But it is important to be aware of electrical hazards while enjoying the water. Electricity and water are a dangerous combination. Know how to keep you and your family safe around pools, hot tubs and other water activities. 

Tips for swimmers:

  • Electric devices and cords should be kept at least ten feet away from the pool or hot tub.
  • When you can, use battery-powered appliances and electronics around the pool or hot tub instead of cord-connected appliances and equipment, such as televisions, radios and stereos.
  • Never touch an electric device when you are wet or standing in water. 
  • Look out for underwater lights that are not working properly, flicker or work intermittently.
  • If you are in the water and feel a tingling in your body, immediately stop swimming in your current direction. Try to swim in a direction where you did not feel the tingling. Exit the water as quickly as possible and do not touch metal ladders or rails. Touching metal may increase the risk of shock. Yell to the adults around you to turn off the power to the pool or hot tub.
  • Never swim when lightning is nearby. If you hear thunder, get out of the water and go inside right away. Stay out of the water until at least 30 minutes after you last heard thunder. Remember this tip: when thunder roars, go indoors!

Tips for homeowners:

  • Make sure all pools, hot tubs, and spas are at least 25 feet from overhead power lines.
  • All wiring and repairs should be performed by a qualified electrician.
  • Have a qualified electrician inspect your pool, spa, or hot tub annually
  • All outdoor receptacles should be covered to keep them dry. This is especially important around pools, spas and other summer water activities.
  • Install GFCIs , which can prevent electrocution, on all receptacles within 20 feet of any water source. Test the GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Locate and label all electrical switches and circuit breakers to pool, hot tub, spa equipment and lighting and know how to operate them.
  • When cleaning the pool, know where any overhead power lines are to avoid making contact with them while using long-handled tools.
  • Purchase a fiberglass Shepherd’s crook/rescue hook for emergencies.


If you think someone in the water is being shocked:

  1. Do not enter the water.
  2. Turn off the source of power.
  3. You or someone around you needs to call 9-1-1. 
  4. Use an insulated device, such as a fiberglass rescue hook, to attempt to remove the victim from the water.


Tips for other water activities:

  • Make sure there are no power lines above or around any water activity, such as running through sprinklers, throwing water balloons, using water guns or fishing.   
  • Never shoot water guns at power lines. The electricity could flow through the water and shock you.
  • Carry your fishing pole horizontally when you are walking to the lake or pond; and be aware of any power lines you may pass by or under. 
  • Swimming in lakes around boats and docks poses additional risks. Electric Shock Drowning (ESD), occurs when a person drowns after being electrocuted while swimming in water that is charged with an electrical current. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis, and results in drowning. Learn how to avoid this dangerous situation


Learn more summer safety tips by listening to our podcast or visiting our outdoor safety tips pages.

Power For Your Life · Summer Safety Tips