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gigi
May 8th, 2010, 11:03 AM
I'd planned a massive Saturday morning swim today at the Y, but I'm here on the couch blogging because there's a thunderstorm in progress. A few years ago the Y started closing the pool (indoors) during lightning. After all these years. All of a sudden.
How many of you practice at facilities where the pool closes down in lightning storms?
Is there a good reason for this?
Have we all been risking our lives for the last 50 years?
Just wondering!

knelson
May 8th, 2010, 12:30 PM
We never get lightning storms here so I can't answer the question, but I have heard that there is some danger even in indoor pools during thunderstorms. I have a feeling the risk is very, very small but most pools probably aren't willing to take that risk in today's litigious society.

I miss good thunderstorms, but I don't miss having to get out of the pool for them. OK, I do remember a few instances when I was a teenager not being terribly upset that a practice finished early due to lightning! :)

nhc
May 8th, 2010, 03:09 PM
One pool I swam at closed the pool whenever there is a thunder/lightning a certain distance/time away (I forgot, but it's something like, say 10 miles away or 5 minutes away--I just made these numbers). Once I just put on my suit and was about to enter the pool, it closed around 8pm due to nearby thunder, so we all waited for it to pass, but it never did, so we had to eventually leave without ever swimming when the pool finally closed on its normal closing time. Very frustrating. Another day, my wait paid off: when the pool reopened after the thunder, I found myself alone in the pool, and I wished to swim diagonally across the pool but not for the lane lines :D

It may depend on whether your pool has windows and how big the windows are. The pool that I mentioned had huge windows. Other pool where I swam either had no window or very small window, so seems not affected by thunder/lightning (they didn't close)? Or has it to do with the height?

knelson
May 8th, 2010, 04:45 PM
I don't think windows are a factor. Apparently the problem is the metal pipes connecting the filter to the pool. If there's a conductive path between something outside and the pool pipes any outdoor strike could electrocute someone in the pool. Obviously the chances are slim. We're talking about a direct strike on the building where the pool is located.

norascats
May 8th, 2010, 07:15 PM
It's a state law in NY and Ct to close for 30 min when there is the sound of thunder.

ALM
May 8th, 2010, 07:34 PM
National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics and Recreation

Journal of Athletic Training 2000;35(4):471–477

http://www.nata.org/statements/position/lightning.pdf

nhc
May 8th, 2010, 10:11 PM
It's all about lawsuit, I think. :cool: I wonder if there has ever been a single case of a swimmer being struck by lightning in an indoor pool.

ALM
May 8th, 2010, 11:11 PM
Excerpts from the JATA article cited earlier:


Lightning current can enter a building via the electric or telephone wiring. It can also enter via a ground current through the incoming plumbing pipelines. This condition makes locker-room shower areas, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), telephones, and electric appliances unsafe during thunderstorms because of the possible contact with current-carrying conduction. While such reports are rare, people have been killed or injured by lightning in their homes while talking on the telephone, taking a shower, or standing near household appliances such as dishwashers, stoves, or refrigerators.1,3,8,13–15



Even though a swimming pool may be indoors and apparently safe, it can be a dangerous location during thunderstorms.25 The current can be propagated through plumbing and electric connections via the underwater lights and drains of most swimming pools. Lightning current can also enter the building, either into the electric wiring inside the building or through underground plumbing pipelines that enter the building.8 If lightning strikes the building or ground nearby, the current will most likely follow these pathways to the swimmers through the water. Thus, indoor-pool activities are potentially dangerous and should be avoided during thunderstorms.25

nhc
May 8th, 2010, 11:42 PM
Good lord. Thanks. Now I'll think twice before I go swimming on a stormy day.:badday:

no200fly
May 9th, 2010, 08:40 AM
A few years ago the Y started closing the pool (indoors) during lightning. After all these years. All of a sudden.
How many of you practice at facilities where the pool closes down in lightning storms?
Is there a good reason for this?
Have we all been risking our lives for the last 50 years?
Just wondering!
I swim at a YMCA and they use this rule. I had never heard of it before - but one of our swimmers, who is an electrical engineer, said it was not irrational. At our pool, swimming stops for 30 minutes after hearing thunder or seeing the flash of lightning.

At times in practice, I have thought about having a remotely triggered photo flash that I can activate to simulate nearby lightning - when we get one of those sets like 18 x 100s on 1:15. I will admit that there have been times that I was glad to hear a rumble in the middle of workout.

smontanaro
May 9th, 2010, 08:51 AM
Apparently not one death recorded (http://www.bigeye.com/indoorswimmingpools.htm). Here's another article (http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2008/novdec/0811_rm.html) on the topic.

ViveBene
May 9th, 2010, 09:22 AM
I had difficulty persuading someone to get out of the lake when thunder and lightning (ground strikes) were occurring within a mile.
:D

debaru
May 9th, 2010, 10:04 AM
I live in Arizona where we have crazy electrical storms during our summer monsoons. I've witnessed many storms where there is a lightning flash just about every second for an hour. Granted, most of the flashes are not cloud-to-ground, but there will be hundreds of ground strikes during such a storm, not to mention lots and lots of loud thunder. I love it!

The most active month tends to be August. I joined my gym and started swimming again last November, well after the monsoon season was over. After reading this thread I'm dying to know what the policy is regarding electrical storm activity.

In case anyone is interested, here's a link to a blog post of mine from August of 2008 where a particularly wild storm was taking place: http://debaru.blogspot.com/2008/08/white-lightning.html
The weather images show how many lightning ground strikes were taking place along with a neat little video of a close strike.

sydned
May 9th, 2010, 12:08 PM
I have a lap pool at my house and yesterday, we had a series of thunder and lightning episodes throughout the day. Even though our pool is grounded, and indoors, it just freaked me out too much to think of swimming. I waited for a break in the storm, and as soon as I was finished with a few hours in the pool, it started right up again.
Even if it is safe, I guess I'm a wimp.

That Guy
May 9th, 2010, 01:42 PM
I was finished with a few hours in the pool...I guess I'm a wimp.

I can't resolve these two statements. :dunno:

mermaid
May 9th, 2010, 02:07 PM
The American Red Cross Lifeguard standards:

"In the event of thunder or lightning, lifeguards should:

Clear everyone from the water at the first sound of thunder or first sight of lightning. Lifeguards in an elevated station should get down immediately. Move everyone to a safe area. For outdoor facilities, move everyone inside. Large buildings are safer than smaller or open structures, such as picnic shelters or gazebos.
Keep patrons & staff our of showers & locker rooms suring a thunderstorm. Water & metal can conduct electricity.
Refrain from using a telephone connected to a land-line except in an emergency
Keep everyone away from windows & metal objects (e.g., doorframes, lockers).
Keep watching for more storms & monitor weather reports on a braodcast radio or weather radio."


"The National Lightning Safety Institute recommends waiting 30 minutes after the sound of thunder is heard before resuming activities" http://www.lightningsafety.com/

osterber
May 10th, 2010, 12:59 PM
I think this calls for a Mythbusters episode!

-Rick

aquageek
May 10th, 2010, 01:26 PM
This is a subject that makes me almost as crazy as noodlers and 95 degree YMCA pools. I have never understood in my entire life why we have to get out of the pool and huddle on deck. Are you more likely to die in the water versus on deck? Is lightning more likely to strike a pool versus the gigantic trees surrounding the pool?

And, I would think if you are in a lake on a boat the safest place is the water versus the boat, which is an attractive lightning rod.

Obviously if it is a big thunder boomer no one wants to be in the pool or on deck but sometimes lifeguards get a big crazy and clear the pool when it is obvious there is no threat in the least nearby.

knelson
May 10th, 2010, 01:38 PM
And, I would think if you are in a lake on a boat the safest place is the water versus the boat, which is an attractive lightning rod.

Say you're swimming in a lake and lightning actually does strike the lake itself. I wonder how far away from the strike you'd need to be to be safe from electrocution? I really have no idea.

jethro
May 10th, 2010, 05:18 PM
This is a subject that makes me almost as crazy as noodlers and 95 degree YMCA pools. I have never understood in my entire life why we have to get out of the pool and huddle on deck. Are you more likely to die in the water versus on deck? Is lightning more likely to strike a pool versus the gigantic trees surrounding the pool?

Agreed. Whenever there's serious talk of shutting down the pool, I always half-jokingly offer to sign some kind of liability waiver, but the lifeguard will have none of it. The overall odds of getting struck by lightning are what, like one in 10 million? Unless it's really bad outside, I'll take my chances.

renie
May 10th, 2010, 07:23 PM
Several times when I first joined my health club, we had to get out b/c of thunder for 1/2 hour. The first time I ever went to master swim, ten minutes into the workout, we were "evicted." I swam in indoor pools for 25 years and never had to get out until I joined this club. I was able to find the rules and regs and the thunder rule only applied to OUTDOOR pools. I sent it to the club owner and the response was that it was the club rule.

I do believe many a young lifeguard has often heard airplanes/trucks passing by my outdoor pool and yelled "thunder" when they want to close early. lol.

debaru
May 10th, 2010, 08:14 PM
Say you're swimming in a lake and lightning actually does strike the lake itself. I wonder how far away from the strike you'd need to be to be safe from electrocution? I really have no idea.

I've been wondering the same thing myself. Lightning was such a rare occurrence when I lived in California, but now that I'm in Arizona, it is quite common.

I did find this on the Internet, but are far as I can tell, no one really knows for sure.

http://scuba-doc.com/lightdive.htm

Redbird Alum
May 14th, 2010, 05:18 PM
What cracks me up is that the guards will clear the pool at our health center, but then allow people to use the locker room showers! And according to all these cited documents, that's just as likely a place to get your hair straightened! :confused:

And what happens if someone does get hit, and the guards need to call 911? You can't use the land line in the pool office!

gigi
May 15th, 2010, 12:38 PM
I'm surprised at how close this poll ended up being. I really thought that indoor pools closing during thunder/lightning storms would be in the minority. I learned a lot from reading the responses here - and of course that only made me more confused.
Thanks for participating!

I distinctly remember boys from my outdoor-pool-using age-group team sneaking off to the parking lot and giving the dumpster a good rumbling when we thought coach or the life-guards needed to hear some "thunder." So I guess all the swim I'm sadly missing now is payback for all the swim I gladly missed in junior high!

Karl_S
May 15th, 2010, 01:55 PM
I think this calls for a Mythbusters episode!

-Rick
What a great idea! Why don't you send them an e-mail suggesting it? I am sure that they will figure out some cool way to totally fry some fish, even if they have to add copious quantities of an elecytolyte to the water to make it a better conductor, completely insulate the pool so that the charge can't go directly to ground, and copper-plate the fish to make them better conductors...

swimshark
May 15th, 2010, 02:49 PM
Our team started swimming in the afternoons at a new pool this past Jan. Last night we had our first thunder/lightning storm since we started there. I don't swim in the afternoons so this morning I asked what the guards did and what the team did. They stayed in.

Now the other pool we have that we will be going back to June 1st is a bubbled in pool. In that pool, we do get out and have to go in the girls locker room which is a concrete bunker-like building (it is a former Army post built in the 1940's)

jim thornton
May 15th, 2010, 09:44 PM
National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Lightning Safety for Athletics and Recreation

Journal of Athletic Training 2000;35(4):471–477

http://www.nata.org/statements/position/lightning.pdf


Thanks, Anna Lea! I now know that "Humans are primarily salt minerals in an aqueous solution."

Nothing like a little self-knowledge to keep up grounded.

Which is also a good idea, I suspect, during a lightning storm.

jim thornton
May 15th, 2010, 09:52 PM
Apparently not one death recorded (http://www.bigeye.com/indoorswimmingpools.htm). Here's another article (http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2008/novdec/0811_rm.html) on the topic.


Thanks for the great links. I just sent them to the aquatics director at our Y, not that I suspect they will overturn conventional wisdom that is now so entrenched as to have become impacted, like a wisdom tooth, or worse.

Allen Stark
May 16th, 2010, 01:02 PM
Apparently not one death recorded (http://www.bigeye.com/indoorswimmingpools.htm). Here's another article (http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2008/novdec/0811_rm.html) on the topic.

Those are great links and I think the physics is sound that you are safer in the pool than out.My worry is that now the life guards will be required to say and do the following-"A thunderstorm has been spotted in this area,for your protection you must stay in the pool and we are locking the lockers and doors so you can't go anywhere unsafe.Thank you for your cooperation."