EAST BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The tragic drowning deaths of three family members in Middlesex County, New Jersey earlier this week has brought up issues of pool safety. The investigation into the tragedy is ongoing as authorities now say electricity didn't play a role in the drowning deaths.
Action News talked with an aquatic investigator who has some important pool safety tips.
Sixty-two-year-old Bharat Patel, his 33-year old daughter-in-law Nisha Patel and her 8-year-old daughter were found unresponsive in the above-ground pool Monday afternoon by East Brunswick police responding to a 911 call from neighbors who heard screams.
Middlesex County prosecutors and police said Wednesday that electricity played no part in their deaths.
Authorities say that while the above-ground pool was mostly shallow at 3 1/2 feet deep, a portion of the pool was 7 feet deep and "It doesn't appear that the victims knew how to swim."
Aquatic safety consultant Michael Oostman has investigated hundreds of drownings across the country and said what happened in East Brunswick is rare and the large majority of drownings happen when children or non-swimmers are unsupervised.
"Any body of water has the opportunity to take someone's life," he said. "The message I want to get across today while we talk is supervision is critical in and around any body of water that you're going to be swimming within."
Oostman also said to make sure you have a certified electrician and a certified pool inspector check out your pool and its surroundings.
"If there was a light, for example, that the bonding on the electrical cord came undone or if the grounding didn't work properly and that current was put into the swimming pool or onto a metal device. Sometimes we'll see that in railings or ladders that can become electrocuted, and then anyone that touches that would certainly experience the full brunt of the current," he said.
But Oostman stresses the real takeaway is to be aware and make sure non-swimmers have a properly fitted Coast Guard-approved life jacket on at all times, even in your own backyard.
"Making sure please, please, please that we are supervising children and anyone when they're in a body of water, in particular a backyard swimming pool," he said.