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Illinois Country Living

Molly Hall

Molly Hall, Director of Safe Electricity


Save Your Child’s Life
Learn-life saving lessons and teach them to your children

Children’s laughter as they run through a sprinkler or splash in a pool, the hum of a boat out on a lake, waves slapping against the shore while fishing; all are the sounds of summer water recreation.

Safe Electricity reminds everyone: Teach what you know about electrical safety, Learn what you need to, and Care enough to share it with those you love.

Safe Electricity’s new “TLC – Teach Learn Care” campaign reminds everyone that water and electricity are a dangerous combination. It highlights the story of 12-year old Caitlyn MacKenzie, an Edwardsville, Ill. girl, who tragically lost her life last summer in an electrical accident. Damp from swimming she reached for a faulty outdoor lamp and received a heart-stopping electrical shock. As part of the TLC safety awareness campaign, her family urges everyone to become educated about electrical safety. The video of their compelling story can be seen on

  Teresa Orasco, Caitlyn’s mother, puts it simply and best, “If you are not educated about electrical safety, become educated and educate your children, your grandchildren, nieces, nephews - anyone you can. It’s important. You don’t realize how important until tragedy strikes.”

Assessing electrical hazards near areas of water is a wise investment of time and personal energy. Electrical equipment around swimming pools can pose a very real hazard.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, deaths and serious shocks occur in, and around, swimming pools each year. Safe Electricity offers tips to stay safe in or around swimming pools:

  • Do not put any electrical appliances within five feet of a swimming pool.
  • Any electrical outlets within 20 feet of a pool should be equipped with a GCFI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
  • Pools and decks should be built at least 5 feet away from all underground electrical lines, and at least 25 feet away from overhead electrical lines.
  • As always, never swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Use battery-operated, rather than electrical, appliances near swimming pools.
  • If a swimmer is electrocuted or shocked, don’t dive in after them, or you could be electrocuted as well. Turn off the power, and then use a fiberglass shepherd’s hook to pull the victim out of the water.
  • When you leave the pool, don’t change the radio station or touch any electrical appliances until you are dry - never touch any electrical appliances when you are wet or standing in water. If children wish to play with sprinklers or hoses, emphasize that they should be set up well away from any electrical outlets or appliances. In most instances, if potential safety hazards are taken into consideration and handled proactively, accidents and deaths could be avoided.
  • Electricity and water are dangerous around larger bodies of water as well. If you plan to go boating or fishing this summer, be aware of your surroundings and potential electrical hazards.
  • Always check the location of nearby power lines before boating or fishing. Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines to be safe.
  • If your boat does come in contact with a power line, never jump out of the boat into the water – the water could be energized. Instead, stay in the boat and avoid touching anything metal until help arrives or until your boat is no longer in contact with the line.
  • Be sure dockside outlets have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection and check cords that are plugged into them to make sure there is no broken casing or exposed wires.
  • Check for the location of power lines before fishing. Make sure you are casting the line away from power lines to avoid potential contact. 

Remember to give those you love TLC – Teach, Learn and Care about electrical safety to keep your summer fun safe!

Molly Hall is the Director of Safe Electricity. For more information on these and other kinds of situations involving electricity visit

The opinions and views of guest commentators are their own and may not represent those of the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives or the electric co-ops of Illinois.

© 2016 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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