In the movie Syriana there was a scene where someone was trying to turn on a pool light by remote control, but it would not work. He thought the remote control was broken, but it was actually the pool light that was broken and a bare wire was exposed in the water. Then a kid jumped in and died. Is this accurate. Something similar happened to me once in my spa where I stuck my finger in a felt a small shock. Someone told me the only reason I felt the shock was because I was standing on the ground. He said if I would have just jumped in and didn’t touch anything(not likely but hypothetically speaking) I would not have been shocked because the circuit would not have been complete. Any comments?
I haven’t seen the movie, but from the way that the scene has been described to me it’s complete bull.
Here’s a previous thread on the subject:
“Someone” was wrong. The electricity flows from the fault, through you and the water, and into the earth. It’s a complete circuit.
Haven’t seen the movie, and doubt that sufficient detail is offered to indicate what portion of NEC article 680 would apply, but it’s safe to refer to 680.23 which addresses underwater luminaires. Generally speaking, luminaires operating at not more than 15 volts are exempt from the GFCI protection requirement.
After years of watching movie panelboard doors burst open and spew sparks like a Chinese new year, I’ve concluded that Hollywood’s accuracy regarding things electrical is about as likely as Paris Hilton being a virgin.
And they actually have scads of knowledgable electricians just off camera, handling the studio lights & wiring. They even list them in the movie credits. Couldn’t they just ask one of their electricians?
But of course, the reality would spoil their great visual special effect, and maybe mess up the story line. Jus tlike watching a scene on the bridge of Star Trek or similar stories, with the workstations exploding in sparks – I always wonder when in the 23rd Century humanity forgot about fuses & circuit breakers.
The scene in question actually doesn’t take place in the US, so I doubt any part of the NEC applies.
According to Practical Sailor magazine, the amount of electricity needed to mess up your motor skills is pretty small. It’s not the same as being electrocuted on dry land, but when you can’t swim, you drown.
The scene itself is complete fiction–the NEC may not apply in foreign countries, but certainly they’ve heard of fuses, circuit breakers, and low-voltage underwater lighting.
The more interesting question I think is, how does the size of the body of water affect the ability of, say, a toaster to electrocute any living thing in the water? We know it’s deadly for a bathtub, and I’d suspect dropping it in the ocean would not kill every living aquatic creature on the planet. Anybody got a line (pardon that) on this?
While we’re talking about this scene in the movie, I have another question. As soon as the kid jumped in and some adults realized he had been electrocuted, they started shouting “kill the power! Kill the power!” and a few seconds later the power was off. Personally, I would have had to stand there looking stupid, because I would have no idea at all where to go to turn off the power to the pool light. Is it generally poolside? Or would it be in the basement of the house? And if it’s in the house, wouldn’t it have taken a lot longer to get the power turned off?
I’m going from memory…
In a Mythbusters episode they tested the lethality of various objects (hairdryers, toasters, radios, etc) dropped into a bathtub with their gelatin dummy.
IIRC, they measured that there is a significant drop in amperage proportionate to the distance in the water from the electrical object.
It makes sense, as the current path would behave more like a field effect in the volume of water. In a swimming pool, I don’t think you’d get even a small tingle unless you were in close proximity to the particular shorted light, or somehow creating a more desirable current path than the surrounding wire (e.g. by having an electrical cord tied to your leg and wrapped around a lighting rod cause your fall into the pool)