Electric safety in baptismal pools

Removing the potential for electrocution

Never, ever, use a wired microphone in a baptismal pool. A recent case [www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/31/national/main995829.shtml] in Texas is only the latest of a long series of tragedies around the world, with church leaders being electrocuted in pools. Even a normally harmless leakage of stray volts into a microphone is lethal when a person is immersed in water.

Make it your church policy that there is no mains-wired electrical equipment of any sort within arm’s reach of a baptistry pool, and that a permanent warning is displayed on your PA equipment about this. Your policy should include:

Please DO NOT believe that an earth leakage (residual current) trip-switch (RCD) can give sufficient safety – it cannot in these circumstances. Whatever claims you may read that they are sufficient to achieve pool safety, it is just not possible. While in normal (dry) circumstances, RCDs are a vital safety requirement in any public building, they cannot protect someone in a baptismal pool because: A very low electric current of a few milliamps kills instantly in this situation. Stick the permanent warning message on your sound mixer or amplifer: Behind the Mixer [www.behindthemixer.com/article-waterproof-microphone.php] offers an article on the subject, explaining safe alternatives, with a free notice ready to download and print – do it today.

These recommendations also apply when using a mobile power source in an outdoor baptismal location.

Safety for musicians

You should also institute safety procedures for musicians using instruments connected to amplifiers. Electrocutions of guitar users are common. A sweaty hand touching metal guitar strings, with the other hand touching a microphone, can create a lethal path for electric current via the heart. This can occur due to instruments being incorrectly wired, or not earthed, or touching a faulty microphone while holding a correctly earthed guitar, or power from a faulty amplifier coming back up the guitar earth connection. Musicians are often tempted to disconnect earth connections in amplifiers or guitars, in order to prevent earth loop problems causing mains hum. And if they are playing in an away venue, they have no way of knowing if there is earth continuity in their power supply. Safety policy should include: Links:
Safety seminar PowerPoint
RCDs explained

Disclaimer: you should always take professional advice, and also ensure that your installation and practice complies with (and probably exceeds) local regulations in your country.

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