The likelihood of electrocution rises considerably when working with electricity in wet areas or handling electric appliances with wet hands. For instance, people have suffered severe electric shocks in the bathroom from hair dryers coming in contact with water or using a plugged-in electronic while in the bathtub. Others have suffered severe injuries from touching switches and outlets using wet hands.
Also, injuries resulting from electric shock tend to be more severe when water is involved as the skin’s resistance is lowered, giving the current easier access through the body.
Nonetheless, it is unavoidable that sometimes we use electricity in wet areas. In such circumstances, we must follow electrical safety guidelines to minimize the risk of shock.
Why are Electricity and Water Dangerous?
Water and electricity are deadlier together because of the following factors:
- Water is a perfect conductor of electricity. Studies show that the human body conducts electricity well because it is 70% water. Therefore, if electricity touches the water you have contact with, it will easily shock you.
- Water reduces your skin’s resistance to electricity, making it easier to pass through and do most of its damage deep to the internal organs. Electrical injury to the internal organs is deadlier than surface injuries
- Water in swimming pools and bathtubs presents the additional risk of drowning. You are likely to drown if you cannot swim or get out of the tub. The electric shock causes muscle contractions which renders you immobile.
- You are more exposed near water than elsewhere. For instance, most people are often minimally dressed and barefoot in the bathtub or swimming pool. Therefore, it’s possible that you always have a little cover that may insulate you when close to water bodies.
What is the Source of Electrical Shock in Water?
These are the familiar sources of electrocution in water. Watch out for them and keep safe:
- Faulty wiring on pool equipment like pumps, filters, vacuums, lights, etc. Faulty electrical wiring may have exposed parts that introduce electric current into the water and will shock you if you are in it.
- Wiring dilapidated through prolonged use or adverse events like fires will also introduce current to the water and electrocute you. Using cords with inadequate insulation also poses the risk of electrocution.
- No GFCI protection – GFCI offers grounding, which channels electric current safely into the ground. If a wet area has no GFCI and comes in contact with a live wire, whoever comes into contact with the water may suffer a shock.
- Electrical appliances are notorious for causing an electrical shock when they come in contact with water.
Electrical Safety Tips when Working with Water and Electricity
Around 4000 people suffer injuries and death from electric shock every year in the US, despite the many rules introduced by Denver laws and best practice standards.
ElectriCall LLC electricians state that most of these electric shocks are accidental and, as such, preventable. Adhering to common sense safety tips when working with electricity and water can drastically reduce the risk of accidental electrocution.
Follow these electrical safety-at-home tips to make using electricity safe even in a water environment:
1. Comply with Electrical Safety Code Rules
If in Denver, CO or Arvada, CO, comply with the requirements of the prevailing electrical safety rules to protect you, others, and your property.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) considers any area in which water or liquid can drip, splash on, or against electrical equipment to be wet and requires that you do not install wiring or equipment in such places. These include the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and swimming pool.
The NEC further requires that you install GFCI outlets in places like the bathroom and kitchen, also that such outlets be at least three feet away from a water source, tub, or sink.
According to the requirements of NEC, you should only use appropriately graded wires in wet areas. Such wires have insulation that can keep out moisture and are marked with a ‘W’ in the coding.
NEC also requires a qualified electrician to install the electrical system, especially if you intend to sell or let your home. You can get a qualified Arvada electrician from a certified electrical company near Denver.
2. Electrical Safety Tips in the Bathroom
Bathrooms may be the riskiest place in the home regarding electrical safety. Follow these bathroom electrical safety tips to ensure your safety at the bathroom at all times:
- Do not use electric appliances like hair dryers, shavers, and tongs near water locations, especially if you are in contact with it. The appliance could shock you if it accidentally falls into the water. Do not use your electrical appliances in bathtubs, sinks, showers, and steam rooms.
- Avoid leaving appliances plugged in after use. Switching off the power at the outlet is not enough. If the device is plugged in, it increases the likelihood that it may be turned on by mistake, especially by a child, and brought in contact with water.
- Do not reach to remove an appliance that falls into the water while it is on, or you may suffer severe shock. Instead, switch off the power at the mains or the outlet and unplug the appliance before touching it.
- Make sure you use GFCI outlets in the bathroom to channel current safely into the ground rather than through your body if it should accidentally come in contact with the water.
- Use enclosed lights in the bathroom. There is an increased probability of a fire or electric shock if the lights are unenclosed and hanging. This way, moisture can easily settle on these fixtures and cause harm. You also want to use pull switches if possible and place them away from the shower.
- Do not handle appliances with wet hands. Water on the skin increases the risk and effects of electric shock. Dry your hands before you pick up an appliance to use.
- Do not overload the circuit. Overloading the circuit is bad enough anywhere else but it is even riskier in a wet area like the bathroom, as the typical appliances you find are power gobblers. Indeed, the shower should have its circuit wired directly from the fusebox.
If you have an old bathroom or kitchen, you may not have had the chance to update all or some of the safety features listed above. So, if you are thinking of bathroom or kitchen remodeling, this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate these safety features into your remodeling project.
3. Electrical Safety Tips in the Kitchen
The kitchen is another wet area that has to be treated carefully. In addition to moisture, a lot of heat from the cooking can melt the insulation off wires.
Follow these tips to use electricity safely in the kitchen:
- Keep your kitchen dry. If your kitchen is dry, you reduce the likelihood of electricity interacting with water accidentally.
- Do not set water on top of your appliances, especially when plugged in. Water on the fridge or microwave may tip over and spill into live electric components. This may cause short-circuiting, which may damage the appliance.
- Place your appliances away from the sink and any other water location. Placing appliances near the sink or water location puts them at risk of direct spillage or vapor accumulation in electric components.
- Keep electric components like cords away from hot surfaces as these may compromise insulation which protects the wires from direct contact with water.
- Do not use wet appliances. To begin with, moisture damages the motor in the appliance, so it may not work correctly. Then, when you plug the device in, water may interact with live components and shock you.
- In case of an electric shock from any appliance, you should switch it off, however mild the tingling is. Only use it once an electrician has declared it safe. You can find an electrician in Arvada, CO by searching for the ‘best electrician around me’.
- Do not attempt to put out an electric fire using water. You may suffer severe electric shock or cause a serious fire.
4. Electrical Safety Tips for Swimming Pool
Swimming pools are a significant hazard for Electric Shock Drowning (ESD). In ESD, death occurs from drowning because electric shock in the pool has paralyzed the body.
To avoid ESD, you want to take precautions that will help prevent electric current from getting into contact with water.
Here are electrical safety tips to keep you and others safe in the swimming pool:
- Install GFCI – NEC regulations require that all pool outlets be GFCI protected, locked, and situated at least six feet away from the pool wall. GFCI protects the equipment and devices serving the pool too.
- Keep wiring for other installations like Christmas and party lights, stoves, and sound systems away from the pool. As a general rule, do not use indoor wiring outside, as the insulation may not be up to it.
- Only plug in pool devices and equipment when there are in use to prevent accidental electric shock.
Electrical safety around wet areas begins with adequately designing and implementing an appropriate electrical system. In Arvada and Denver, CO, you can find a professional electrician who can assess, design, and implement an electrical system you can use in dry and wet areas. An online search for ‘residential electrician near me’ or ‘electrician around me’ will bring up electricians closest to you with whom you can engage.