State leaders in North Carolina are taking steps toward implementing stricter pool safety inspection regulations, after the accidental death of a teenage lifeguard last Labor Day weekend revealed a devastating hole in the required precautions.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel Rosoff was the first to arrive at Heritage Point pool when she was shocked on contact with the water and drowned. The cause was found to be a faulty grounding wire in the pool’s electrical system, which had corroded over time.
At the time of the accident, Heritage Point reported three safety inspections completed during 2016, wherein no potential hazards were noted in the chemicals, signage, fences or restrooms. However, the electrical system, which is not part of the required inspections, had not been probed since the pool was built in 1979.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services told WRAL News that, in the absence of a specific regulation, this is likely true for most pools. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissions has reported 14 pool-related electrocutions between 2003 and 2014.
So far, the DHHS has taken action to send a memo to Wake County health departments, with a recommendation that pool facilities engage a licensed electrician to inspect their electrical systems “on a regular basis,” and warning operators that electrical equipment that does not meet code places patrons and employees “at considerable risk.”
Wake County Pool Inspectors have agreed to send the DHHS memo to all pool operators along with their yearly inspection fee invoice – however, it will be the responsibility of the operators to follow through with the recommendations.
Rosoff’s mother told WRAL News that the memo feels like a step in the right direction, but she believes electrical inspections should be more than just a recommendation if they hope to prevent future tragedies.