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Author Topic: Grouding issues and large pools of water  (Read 10905 times)

Clayton Luckie

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Grouding issues and large pools of water
« on: October 30, 2005, 07:25:42 pm »

Hey folks

I just heard news of a pastor who was electrocuted today because he was handed a mic while he was standing in the baptismal.  This is of course a very dangerous thing, especially if there is phantom power on this mic.  

Just a reminder to church tech teams out there that we can do a lot to protect people when micing baptisms.  I use an SM81 just outside of the water area, but far enough away that it would not easily fall into the water.  I also put a windscreen on it, just in case someone decides to grab the mic while standing in the pool.  This would hopefully keep water from reaching the mic element and completing the circuit through the pastor.  

Most importantly, I remind whoever the pastor is that the mic is not to be touched while they are in the water.  

Please be safe when working with this stuff.  Sometimes we can forget how dangerous things can be.  

[Update] I just read that this pastor has passed away because of this accident.  This is serious stuff, folks.  Please be careful.

I also want to say that I do not want to mention the name of this church, because I do not want to bring any undue grief to them in this time.  This message is not at all an indictment of the tech team at this church, but just a reminder to us church sound workers to take extra precautions in this area.  If you are at all effected by this pastor's death, I'm sure you will hear through your church.

cl
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Andy Peters

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2005, 07:51:32 pm »

Clayton Luckie wrote on Sun, 30 October 2005 17:25

I just heard news of a pastor who was electrocuted today because he was handed a mic while he was standing in the baptismal.  This is of course a very dangerous thing, especially if there is phantom power on this mic.


I seriously doubt that phantom power was the problem here.

Sounds like an AC mains issue -- a disconnected safety ground somewhere, or incorrect wiring, or something else to put the case of the microphone at a high potential with respect to the baptismal.

I expect a lawsuit will be filed in the near future.

-a
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2005, 08:04:45 pm »

I agree with Andy.  The problem must have been a grounding issue.  If the pastor touched the case of the mic and got zapped, he would have not had any acces to the phantom power.  WHile phantom is 48V it's current is very limited.  If driving a dead short there is less than 6ma of current available-due to the series resistors in the console.

I have seen several churches that rely on volunteers to help wire the building.  I have seen reversed hot and neutrals among other errors.  I have repaired lots of equipment that has been fried due to the wiring errors.  Luckily nobody has been hurt yet.  Lots of melted wires though.

People have to look at the REAL problem and not jump to conclusions.  Linda like the time that a famous female singer "almost got electructed when she fell into a pool and was wearing a wireless mic".  They didn't say what brand was being used, but I bet there was no more than 9V in there.  Yeah-that is going to kill ya. Laughing
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Clayton Luckie

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2005, 08:33:43 pm »

Thanks for clarifying the issue here.  I am still learning a lot about AC power, so please keep your thoughts coming.  I guess this could be akin to the "guitarist gets electrocuted when grabbing a mic" problem?  I guess multiply that by standing in a pool...

My main advice remains, however.  I would not in any circumstance hand a wired mic to someone standing in water.  There is just too much at risk.  Wireless, yes (if you are okay risking the life of your wireless mic), but not wired.  Can't be too careful, right?  I find it easy to mic a baptism from a safe distance with a good condenser.  

cl
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Gary Welker

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2005, 08:55:38 pm »

When I do sound for baptisms, I always use a wireless mic on astand.  I do not want anybody going to see the Lord before their time.  I will not put a wired mic anywhere close to the tank.  There are too many risks.  It is just too easy for the pastor or the baptisee to forget and try to grab the mic so that they can speak or give their testimony.  DO NOT USE A WIRED MIC ANYWHERE CLOSE TO A WATER TANK.  Also, please check the grounding of your system.  Look for any 3-2 ground adapters and remove them.  THEY ARE DANGEROUS.

Gary Welker
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2005, 09:22:38 pm »

Clayton Luckie wrote on Sun, 30 October 2005 18:25

Hey folks

I just heard news of a pastor who was electrocuted today because he was handed a mic while he was standing in the baptismal.  This is of course a very dangerous thing, especially if there is phantom power on this mic.  

Just a reminder to church tech teams out there that we can do a lot to protect people when micing baptisms.  I use an SM81 just outside of the water area, but far enough away that it would not easily fall into the water.  I also put a windscreen on it, just in case someone decides to grab the mic while standing in the pool.  This would hopefully keep water from reaching the mic element and completing the circuit through the pastor.  

Most importantly, I remind whoever the pastor is that the mic is not to be touched while they are in the water.  

Please be safe when working with this stuff.  Sometimes we can forget how dangerous things can be.  

[Update] I just read that this pastor has passed away because of this accident.  This is serious stuff, folks.  Please be careful.

I also want to say that I do not want to mention the name of this church, because I do not want to bring any undue grief to them in this time.  This message is not at all an indictment of the tech team at this church, but just a reminder to us church sound workers to take extra precautions in this area.  If you are at all effected by this pastor's death, I'm sure you will hear through your church.

cl



I recall hearing about vaguely similar case some ten years ago involving a baptism pool death via wired microphone. In that case the problem was traced to a faulty repair to a powered mixer (thankfully, not my old employer) where some apparently very stupid individual corrected a hum problem by lifting the line cord ground lead inside the unit. I don't know the details but I suspect faulty insulation in the power transformer primary was causing the hum and the line cord safety ground was doing it's job.

IT IS NEVER OK TO REMOVE A SAFETY GROUND. Hum is evidence of current flow, often harmless but sometime deadly. Even with properly designed and maintained equipment, I'd be inclined to opt for wireless when water is involved. Cheap wireless these days makes it a no brainer.


edit - Another though. The source of the dangerous voltage may have been anything associated with the water (pump motor, pool lights, etc). The hard wired microphone would then become the low impedance path to a solid ground. Pools should be GFI protected but who knows where the problem came from.  

JR
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JimCreegan

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2005, 09:57:09 pm »

It might be worthwhile to invest in some ground fault circuit breakers or outlets (they are required around regular bathtubs).  Especially if you can't swing a wireless

JimC
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Stephen B.

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2005, 10:17:03 am »

This is a very tragic thing that has happened.  I find it really hard to believe that this church would have had a bad wiring job considering their permanent worship leader is one of the giants of contemporary worship music.  How much more serious are the ramifications if the church was wired professionally?

Remember that right now here in Waco, we are primarily concerned with supporting the family and friends of the pastor with prayer and love.
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Clayton Luckie

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Re: Grouding issues and large pools of water
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2005, 10:38:23 am »

Stephen

If the fault is found to be in the professional wiring, I assume that there can be a law suit against the install company, if they wish to file one.  If the fault is in something else (like the pool), and was a fluke, then I assume this will be chalked up to a horrible accident.  Anyway, I'm sure the church will investigate the cause.

Do you go to this church?

cl
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Mark Smith

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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2005, 10:51:52 am »

Foremost our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the minister.  
Second, I think we have to take a serious look at this and determine what happened.  My guess is that it was a light or more likely a heater problem that manifested itself when he touched the mic and grounded himself.  I imagine someone did maintenance on the baptistry or some subset of it over the last few weeks without understanding the implications of everything they did.  We need to all pay close attention to changes in our churches and watch out for unsafe practices.  This was a terrible thing and the way we can pay our respects is to make sure it doesn't happen again.
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Re: Phantom power and large pools of water
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2005, 10:51:52 am »


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