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Thread: Swimming in a thunderstorm

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    Kes's Avatar
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    Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Hi,

    With the blisteringly hot weather we've been having over the last few weeks (in the UK) we decided that when the pool hit 21 deg C (a gnat's elbow under 70 F) we would brave a dip, and set a new early-start record. We have a cover so the pool is effectively solar heated. Yesterday evening we opened the pool and gingerly crawled in. Yes, it was rather nippy but OK for a few quick lengths. We hadn't been in for more than a minute when the heavens opened with a terrific storm. The rain fell in huge pounding drops and the noise was tremendous: we could hear thunder a few miles away. Now it is quite exhilarating to swim when it's raining, and the noise just adds to the excitement. But then I thought 'What would happen if lightning struck the pool or the cover?'.

    The cover is made of an aluminium arched framework with polycarbonate sheets. I guess the polyc wouldn't offer much resistance. I've read that many indoor pools are closed in thunderstorms (as the The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends), and also that this is tosh, as recorded injuries from lightning strike on indoor pools are zero. I can't find much comment on swimming in an outdoor pool during a thunderstorm.

    Anyway, prudence, cowardice and lack of knowledge took over and we left the pool (only to return later when the thunder drifted away). We we're probably in more danger getting out of the pool, standing there drenched like, well, use your imagination.

    Does anyone have any info or advice on swimming during a thunderstorm, in an open pool, and in our Faraday Cage?

    Regards.
    11,000 Imp galls inground hopper 15' x 35', Delifol liner (vinyl), sand filter, Abrisud Classic cover, Palintest 315C test kit

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Lightning is dangerous. It doesn't need to hit the pool to kill you, it can be a significant distance away and the ground currents can still flow through the pool and kill you. Being in the water significantly increases the danger, since water is much more conductive than air.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I agree too dangerous to swim in a thunderstorm, How hot has it been over there anyway?
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    Kes's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I dunno, 75 or more. Too hot and sticky (for me) to do anything in the open.

    Whilst I'm not particularly advocating swimming in a thunderstorm the contrary argument is that there is apparently no recorded incident of anyone being killed by lightning striking a pool, but plenty if you're having a shower or microwaving beans or just standing around. So standing, or sitting, outside is statistically far more dangerous than swimming.
    11,000 Imp galls inground hopper 15' x 35', Delifol liner (vinyl), sand filter, Abrisud Classic cover, Palintest 315C test kit

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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I dunno, a glass of good red and some very loud classical music and take a chance.
    Self built 5500 gallon bare concrete (temporarily) pool with limestone coping, Pentair Swimmey 1/2 HP pump, Triton sand filter with DE, Simpool peristaltic muriatic acid pump with pH sensor and Monarch SWG. Home made solar heater with Pentair Compool control panel and 3 way valve. 1 skimmer, 1 main drain, 2 returns, 2" plumbing, Hayward auto fill valve.

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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Quote Originally Posted by Kes
    Does anyone have any info or advice on swimming during a thunderstorm, in an open pool, and in our Faraday Cage?
    In a Faraday cage, you do not touch the bars, and the electricity flows around you. In the water, you are part of the conductor.

    http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls ... pools.html

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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I love the days when its only 75, better than the 90+ with 80% humidity we get, Im coming over there in June so looking forward to that.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Interesting article on the subject. Talks about indoor pools and thunderstorms but I think it applies:

    http://www.bigeye.com/indoorswimmingpools.htm


    I am just chicken, I get out when a thunderstorm approaches. Several years ago I had a bolt strike a telephone pole near me. I know this because I heard the sound (very loud) and saw the light at the same time. Actually did not know what it was at first, thought someone had thrown a hand gernade at me or something. Anyways, since then my dog and I hide during thunderstorms.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    People taking a bath are routinely killed by thunderstorms, so it is presumed that swimming pools are also dangerous. The thing is that there are way way more people taking baths during thunderstorms than people swimming during thunderstorms, so it may just be luck the no one has been killed in a pool yet, or there may be enough of a difference between the two situations so they are different somehow. No one really knows, so much better to be safe than sorry.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I was on a beach in a faint drizzely rain. I had an umbrella but my small children were walking ahead of me. I noticed lighting strike offshore, probably hitting an offshore oil production platform, I'd guess a mile or two out -- too far to see but I know they are there.

    I got a distinct shock where my ear was touching the metal umbrella post. Did the electricity travel through the water, through the wet sand, up to my ear? Or through the air to the umbrella? I dunno, but I got those kids off the beach, pronto.

    I would not stay in a pool in a thunderstorm.
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    Need statistics, please

    We recently moved to this thunderstorm-and-lightning part of the world, and spouse and I are disagreeing over whether you need to stay out of the pool when there's lightning. Can anyone point me to some statistics I can use to get everyone out of the pool? Also, I never knew that bathtubs and showers were dangerous during lightning storms -- I usually go right from the pool to the shower when there's a storm (but spouse stays in the water)! I won't do that anymore. I know that I shouldn't stand around with a golf club in my hand, but apparently there's a lot more I need to know ...
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Take it from somebody who has been struck by lightning, get out of the pool and inside as quick as possible. When I was shocked the storm was at least 10 miles away.

    and no I haven't won the lottery yet unless you count my big win was/is I'm still walking and talking.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Quote Originally Posted by anonapersona
    .....I would not stay in a pool in a thunderstorm.
    Me neither! And, I do not stay outside, either!

    Quote Originally Posted by BBailey
    and no I haven't won the lottery yet unless you count my big win was/is I'm still walking and talking.
    That is a big win
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I was always told "if you can hear it, it can strike you." I won't take the chance being outside much less in the pool. My life is worth way more than that!
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Websites, statistics? I don't need convincing, but my spouse is stubborn ...
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    As noted above, swimming pools and lightning are kind of a strange situation. Everyone agrees that it is dangerous, but at the same time there aren't any documented cases of someone being killed by lightning in a swimming pool. People are electrocuted by lightning in a bath tub regularly but not in swimming pools. The presumption is that since way way more people take baths in lightning storms than swim in lightning storms, there simply aren't enough test cases to get meaningful statistics. But it is also possible that swimming pools are somehow safer than bath tubs. In any case, that anomaly means you won't find any solid information about swimming pool/lightning safety.
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Maybe because swimming pools are grounded? Not that I'm an electricity expert, by any means ... but I did read that swimming pool equipment is usually grounded, so it's possible that a lightning strike would be directed to the grounding rod stuck in the earth.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Grounding isn't sufficient. If lightning strikes the water it can still pass through you on the way to ground.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    Mythbusters TV show did an episode on showering during a lightning storm. There conclusion was that you can not get electrocuted in the shower.......
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    Re: Swimming in a thunderstorm

    I suppose one could ask the question: Would you still resume normal outdoor activities during a lightning storm if you didn't have a pool?

    My thinking is that lightning goes for the tallest object right? So if you are in a pool your head becomes the tallest object...Just going by the mythology my parents always told us.

    Anyway, water conducts electricity...if it were me, I skiddaddle-do inside when there is lightning, no matter what I'm doing. We had a crack of lightning over head the other day (on a walk) and the sound alone was enough to spook out me and the kids. My sister, the risk taker - loves swimming during a storm. She has incredible luck.
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