A lifeguard was electrocuted in North Carolina, causing some in the consumer press to ask if periodic electrical inspections should become required.

This marks at least the fourth incident in which a person was shocked or electrocuted in a pool in 2016 — two were fatal, two were not.

On September 3, 17-year-old Rachel Rosoff was found by a coworker floating face-down in a subdivision pool serving a Raleigh-area neighborhood called Heritage Point. The other employee tried to save her, but realized the water was electrified when he touched it.

It isn’t known exactly how the incident occurred. A relative was quoted by the local press saying they suspect she was holding a rail or other metallic element for support as she prepared to check the chemistry. A preliminary autopsy suggested the girl drowned after falling unconscious from the electrical shock.

Investigations are being performed by the local Sheriff’s office, as well as the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division. The lifeguard management firm that employed the high school student also is being investigated, as is routine in the case of such incidents.

A preliminary report by the Wake County Planning, Development and Inspections Department pinned the blame on a corroded wire, which failed to trip the breaker after a pump failed and faulted to ground. A complete inspection and report will take three to four months.

“When the phase A faulted to ground, the intended path for fault current was the grounded (neutral) conductor,” said Gregory A. Vance, inspections administrator for Wake County Planning, Development and Inspections, in the report. “Since this conductor was open (broken) it could not conduct the necessary current to cause the overcurrent device (breaker) to open (trip). The fault current then followed the only path available to it, the pool water…”

The site was inspected three times this year, but there was no electrical assessment, which is neither required nor falls under the purview of the health department. The pool management firm told investigators that the electrical feeder to the pump was repaired in 2011.

The pool was built in 1979.

With so many incidents occurring this year, and an especially high-profile fatality occurring in 2014, the public is becoming more aware that the aging of pools is on the upswing.

That’s why some believe periodic electrical inspections should be required. Only New Jersey and a few municipalities mandate this so; in most cases, an electrical system is only inspected upon initial construction, and maybe when a renovation is performed.

“If there isn’t a requirement saying you have to do it, a lot of [owners/operators] never do, and decades pass,” said Alison Osinski, president of Aquatic Consulting Services in Avalon, Calif.

In the meantime, some pool managers in the town where Rachel Rosoff perished have contacted local electrical experts requesting a voluntary inspection.

Writers of the National Electrical Code (NEC) addressed the issue of how time can affect electrical components, especially those buried underground, when updating the language for next year, said Bill Hamilton, Ph.D., who represents the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals on the committee that writes the NEC’s pool and spa section. In the latest version, writers added language specifying what types of connectors can be used underground, and how they should be labeled.

While this year has seen more than its share of pool shocks and electrocutions, it’s too early to declare them as being on the rise, Hamilton said.

“I think that they kind of come and go,” said the president of Austin-based engineering/architectural firm Hamilton and Associates. “We’ve had some very good years when there’ve been no incidences and there’ve been years when there’s been several of various types.

“If you look at the number of pools out there, the number of incidents is miniscule,” he added. “But these are human lives that we’re dealing with, and you don’t want to lose any of them.”