Earlier this month, the article "5 Reasons Lightning Shouldn't Close Your Indoor Pool" ran in an edition of the bi-weekly e-newsletter Aquatics International Extra. As it turns out, the topic is one of great interest. And it's also one of equal divide.
In the article, we asked readers to participate in a poll to indicate whether they had a policy and whether or not they felt one was necessary. Additionally, we asked readers to supply feedback regarding their view. Here we recap some of what your peers had to say.
Interestingly, the community is nearly split down the middle in terms of evacuating an indoor pool during the case of a storm, with 52 percent of them doing so when lightning is present. After reading Tom Griffiths' reasoning behind why he feels doing so is unnecessary, 25 percent say they would revise their policy if they could.
However, the most revealing aspect of the responses is the reasons behind why a facility does or does not close. Several agree with Griffiths' recommendation, citing a lack of incidents and statistics as a motivating factor.
"Decrease in patron satisfaction and no recorded cases of incident, injury, or death...we feel the policy is out-of-date," wrote one reader.
"I completely agree with this article. It's far more dangerous to send patrons into the storm than to let them continue swimming. We have been open for 11 years and swim when there is lightening. No issues to date."
On the other hand, some like to err on the side of caution:
Even if the odds are 100,000,000 to 1, I'm not going to take them and be responsible for the 1," wrote one respondent. Several others voiced a similar stance.
But for many, it's not up to them at all. Many note that insurance drives their policy, while an overwhelming number indicated the local government forces a closure.
"Change the minds of the insurance company that insures the facility," a reader suggested.
In certain states, facilities are required to shut down during a storm.
"State law in Delaware requires shut down during thunder, so the state law would need to change first," one readers indicates.
One of the arguments listed by Griffiths is that a properly grounded pool is safe. Some respond that this is exactly why they do keep their pools open.
"We do not evacuate. Our pool is well grounded and don't see any reason why to evacuate unless the weather that threatens is a tornado warning or causes a power outage."
Others, however, see this as a very good reason to close.
"Two electrical engineers have pointed out several reasons to clear the pool. One is that lightening could hit the metal outdoor door frame and jump to the nearby pool ladder," explains a reader.
"While our pools are grounded and bonded with the grounding and bonding inspected every 5 yrs, I have concern over lightening traveling through the large windows or vents. Additionally, while no one has ever been killed from being struck by lightening in an indoor pool, I have heard many instances of the aquatic area being struck by lightening, and I have to wonder if the reason there have been no deaths is that most indoor facilities close when lightening is in the area."
A third example in favor of closing despite bonding was not submitted via the poll but rather is a comment posted on the article page itself:
The main reason to evacuate any pool, shower, kitchen sink or bathtub during a thunderstorm is to preclude electrical shock via piping, plumbing and/or damaged or undamaged electrical equipment associated with the pool, such as underwater lighting, pumps, etc. People may or may not build indoor pools in compliance with NEC but no degree of compliance with standards guarantees safety during a local thunderstorm. Whoever wrote this article has sort of missed the main point and they have fallen victim to a number of logical fallacies. Watch the movie Syriana to see a realistic depiction of an in-water electrocution by a damaged pool light fixture.
Ultimately, the verdict still is out on the subject. And as one reader points out, Griffiths' article is not evidence enough to support keeping a facility open.
"One article does not provide enough information for a change, but perhaps it can motivate further study on the topic. If most indoor pools currently close for lightning then there would be a significantly lower (ok zero) statistic of injuries relating to indoor swimming and lightning storms. I do, however, know of guards who have witnessed electrical sparks entering a building when a strike was nearby."
To that end, Aquatics International is seeking additional feedback on this topic for further analysis to be shared at a later date. If you would be interested in speaking on the record about this topic, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.