Local News

As pool season begins, state warns of potentially life-threatening electrical hazards

Posted May 26

New safety recommendations from state health leaders could impact thousands of public swimming pools in North Carolina after a teenage lifeguard was shocked and drowned in a Wake County neighborhood pool Labor Day weekend.

— With the summer swimming season officially arriving this weekend, the North Carolina Department of Labor on Friday urged pool-goers to make themselves more aware of potentially life-threatening electrical hazards around pools.

The push for awareness is in part due to the death of Rachel Rosoff, a 17-year-old lifeguard who was shocked and drowned in a Wake County neighborhood pool Labor Day weekend.

The electrocution was the result of a faulty grounding wire in the pool's electrical system that hadn't been re-inspected in 37 years. The wire was apparently damaged by time and corrosion.

Rachel Rosoff, drowned lifeguard

Rosoff's death prompted a DOL review of the safety requirements and recommendations that swimming pool operators should use when dealing with electricity around pools.

“We want to ensure that people feel completely safe when they visit their swimming pools,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said in a statement.

“Pools are meant to be a safe and fun experience for families, but swimmers should be aware of all of the potential risks, including hazards involving electricity.”

Kevin Beauregard, the director of the state Occupational Safety and Health Division, said many community pools across the state were initially built in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Building codes do not currently require that electrical equipment installed in prior years meet current code unless a system is replaced,” Beauregard said in a statement.

Some counties in the state started recommending that pool operators conduct electrical inspections at swimming pool facilities following Rosoff's death, but it is not currently state law.

Rosoff's mother, Michelle, is trying to change that.

Michelle Rosoff wants to get a bill passed in the General Assembly that would require every public pool to have its electric wiring inspected annually.

In Wake County, the inspections currently required include making sure the drains work properly, the water quality is at a healthy level, the signs and emergency phones are in place and there are no hazards around the pool.

Electrical inspections can cost several hundred dollars, and fixing problems can cost thousands.

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