View Poll Results: Does your indoor practice pool close during lightning storms

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  • Yes

    31 53.45%
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    27 46.55%
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Thread: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

  1. #1
    Very Active Member gigi's Avatar
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    Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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!

  2. #2
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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!

  3. #3
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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

    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?

  4. #4
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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.

  5. #5
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    It's a state law in NY and Ct to close for 30 min when there is the sound of thunder.

  6. #6
    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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

  7. #7
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    It's all about lawsuit, I think. I wonder if there has ever been a single case of a swimmer being struck by lightning in an indoor pool.

  8. #8
    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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

  9. #9
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Good lord. Thanks. Now I'll think twice before I go swimming on a stormy day.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Quote Originally Posted by gigi View Post
    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.

  11. #11
    Very Active Member smontanaro's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Apparently not one death recorded. Here's another article on the topic.

  12. #12
    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    I had difficulty persuading someone to get out of the lake when thunder and lightning (ground strikes) were occurring within a mile.

  13. #13
    Very Active Member debaru's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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.

  15. #15
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Quote Originally Posted by sydned View Post
    I was finished with a few hours in the pool...I guess I'm a wimp.
    I can't resolve these two statements.

  16. #16
    Very Active Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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/
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  17. #17
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    I think this calls for a Mythbusters episode!

    -Rick

  18. #18
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    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.

  19. #19
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Quote Originally Posted by aquageek View Post
    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.

  20. #20
    Very Active Member jethro's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Indoors - Lightning Outdoors

    Quote Originally Posted by aquageek View Post
    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.

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