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Electrocution On Lake

Discussion in 'Dock Talk' started by Pittsburgh, Apr 28, 2016.

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  1. Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh Commodore

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    This Is A Must Read For Every Boater and Dock Owner 


    Keep Summer Fun For All..... 


    DOCKS WITH BAD WIRING CONTINUE TO PROVE DEADLY 
    NEW ELECTRIC SHOCK DROWNING RESOURCE CENTER


    D. Scott Croft SCroft@BoatUS.com


    "Tragic Deaths Were Preventable" - What You Need to Know

    Last year over Fourth of July weekend, Alexandra Anderson, 13, and her brother, Brayden Anderson, eight, were swimming near a homeowner's dock on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri when they started to scream. By the time the siblings were pulled from the lake, they were unresponsive and a short while later were pronounced dead. Two hours later on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee, 10-year-old Noah Winstead, died in a similar manner, while Noah's friend, 11-year-old Nate Parker Lynam, passed away the following evening. These were not drowning victims. In all four of these cases, 120-volt AC (alternating current) leakage from nearby boats or docks electrocuted or incapacitated swimmers in freshwater. This little-known and often-unidentified killer is called Electric Shock Drowning or ESD.


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    Innocent enough? Swimming from or near a boat dock that has electricity installed can have tragic consequences, says Boat Owners Association of The United States.

    "Every one of these deaths was preventable," said Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Director of Technical Services Beth Leonard. "Any boater and every adult who swims in a freshwater lake needs to understand how ESD happens, how to stop it from happening, and what to do - and not to do - if they ever have to help a victim." To help them with this vital task, BoatUS has put together a new online Electric Shock Drowning Resource Center to educate and inform the public about ESD at BoatUS.com/seaworthy/ESD.asp and offers helpful tips below.

    "An effort to increase safety standards on marina docks has been underway for several years now, but few resources have been available for the general public," said Leonard. "ESD is a complicated subject, and what information has been available for boaters, private dock owners, and swimmers has, all too often, been inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading. Our Electric Shock Drowning Resource Center addresses this problem with a range of helpful articles and presentations, all of which have been vetted for technical accuracy. We'll continue to add to and update this material to ensure it remains a valuable source of information," she added.

    So what should boat owners, private dock owners, and swimmers do to prevent ESD?

    Electric Shock Drowning: What You Need to Know From BoatUS

    [​IMG]
    A diagram of how Electric Shock Drowning occurs.
     

    • IN GENERAL:
    • > Tell others about ESD. Most people have never heard of it and are unaware of the danger.
    • > To retrieve a person in the water, reach, throw, and row - but don't go.
    • > Make sure your children understand the importance of not swimming anywhere there could be electricity. Don't let them roughhouse on docks. Tell them what to do if they feel a tingling or shock in the water (see below).
    • > ESD victims are good candidates for successful Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Learn to perform CPR and maintain your training.

    IN MARINAS:

    • > NEVER swim within 100 yards of any freshwater marina or boatyard.
    • > Talk to marina owners or operators about the danger of ESD. Ask your marina operator to prohibit swimming at their facility and post signs.
    • > Ask marina operators if they are aware of and follow the guidelines in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 303 (fire protection standard for marinas and boatyards) and National Electric Code (NEC) 555.

    IF YOU HAVE A BOAT:

    • > Have your boat tested once a year to see if it is leaking electricity, or buy a clamp meter and test it yourself. If you find any problems, have your boat inspected by a qualified electrician trained to American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards.
    • > THave a qualified ABYC electrician install an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) on your boat (refer them to the ABYC E-11 Standard) or use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in the shore power cord. As an alternative, install an isolation transformer on the boat.
    • > Test the GFCI/ELCI at least once a month or per the manufacturer's specifications.
    • > Do NOT do your own 120-volt AC electrical work on a boat or hire an electrician who is not familiar with ABYC standards to do it. Many of the problems that lead to an electrical fault on the boat result from the differences between shore and boat electrical systems and standards.
    • > DO NOT use common household extension cords for providing shore power to your boat. Use, and encourage other boaters to use, shore power cords built to UL standards, ideally with a GFCI built in.
    • > NEVER dive on your boat to work on underwater fittings when it is plugged in to shore power, even in saltwater.

    IF YOU HAVE A PRIVATE DOCK:

    • > NEVER swim within 100 yards of ANY dock using electrical power!
    • > If you have not electrified your dock or put an AC system on your boat, weigh the risks carefully before doing so.
    • > If you need electricity on your dock, hire a licensed electrician and make sure the wiring meets the requirements in NFPA 303 and NEC 555. If your dock is already wired, hire an electrician to check that it was done properly. Because docks are exposed to the elements, their electrical systems should be inspected at least once a year.
    • > Exercise your GFCIs/ELCIs as recommended by the manufacturer.
    • > If you normally run a power cord from your house or garage to charge your batteries, make sure the outlet has a GFCI and include a GFCI somewhere in the shore power cord.
    • > NEVER swim off your dock without shutting down all shore power to the boat and the dock.
    • > Even if you adhere to all of these rules, nearby docks can still present a shock hazard. Educate your neighbors and work together with them to make the waterfront safe.

    IF YOU'RE IN THE WATER AND YOU FEEL TINGLING OR SHOCKS:

    • > DO NOT follow your instinct to swim toward the dock!
    • > SHOUT! When electricity is not involved, drowning victims cannot speak, let alone shout. Tell those around you exactly what you're feeling so they can help you while keeping themselves safe.
    • > Try to stay upright and back out of the area the way you came, warn any other swimmers in the area of the danger, and then head for shore 100 yards or more from the dock.
    • > Alert the dock or marina owner and tell them to shut the power off to the dock until they locate the problem and correct it.
    • > Go to the hospital, explain what happened, and ask to be checked over to be sure there are no adverse health effects.

    IF YOU HAVE TO RESCUE AN ESD VICTIM:

    • > Know how to distinguish drowning from ESD (drowning victims cannot speak and look as if they are trying to climb a ladder; screaming, shouting and tingling, numbness, or pain indicate ESD).
    • > Fight the instinct to enter the water - many rescuers have died trying to help ESD victims.
    • > Call for help. Use 911 or VHF Channel 16 as appropriate.
    • > Turn off the shore power connection at the meter base and/or unplug shore power cords.
    • > Get the victim out of the water. Remember to reach, throw, row - but don't go.
    • > If the person is not breathing or you cannot get a pulse, perform CPR until the Fire Department, Coast Guard, or ambulance arrives.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2016
  2. Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh Commodore

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    Friendly Reminders of Caution 


    Dock Dangers: Experts Warn of Electrocution Risk



    A young man recently died climbing out of the water onto a dock ladder. Don’t let this happen to you





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    Ronald Agrella (@ronagrella)OutdoorsJune 26, 2015

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    [​IMG](Photo: Ivars Kisis/Shutterstock)



    As Americans turn to lakes and coastal shores to cool off this summer, officials warn of a potential danger that most swimmers and recreationists probably wouldn’t think of: electrocution.


    Incidents involving metal docks, ladders and piers discharging dangerous or potentially deadly electrical currents happen each year. While exact numbers weren’t available, these injuries and deaths are usually attributed to problems with dock and pier electrical grounding systems or even electrical leakage by nearby boats, experts say.


    21-year-old Illinois man recently died while climbing out of the water onto a dock ladder at a cove in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, State Police Corporal Scott White told SafeBee. The swimmer touched the metal ladder and received a fatal jolt. Two children died at the same lake three years ago under similar circumstances, White says.


    "The incidents that grab headlines are when someone is killed, but we do have situations when someone finds there's a problem, reports it and the problem is remedied before someone gets seriously hurt," he said. "I wouldn't say it's a common problem, but it's not extremely unusual either."


    Keeping it grounded



    Electrical consultant Ed Clark has investigated hundreds of electrical accidents and served as an expert witness on cases around the country, including some dock-related electrocutions. He says the cause of these cases almost always involves an electrical grounding issue with the dock, and sometimes other hazards.


    Docks, including ladders and any other fastened metal structures on them, should be properly grounded by aqualified electrician, Clark says. Outlets and panels should be equipped with Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs), which activate a safety breaker to shut off power when it senses a problem with the current.


    GFIs, while important, aren’t enough on its own, says Clark. Sometimes people can receive mild shocks, even with a GFI system, if the current is not strong enough to cause the safety device to kick in. That’s why making sure your system is properly grounded is a critical first step.


    After you install your system, it doesn’t hurt to get your municipal electrical inspector to double check the work, he says.


    Boats and other dangers



    Sometimes even with properly grounded equipment and GFI, accidents can still happen, adds Michael S. Morse, PhD, an electrical accident reconstruction expert in San Diego, California.


    Morse has investigated cases in which boats have electrical problems that energize the water with electricity. In the worst cases, a person can be electrocuted while swimming too close to the source of electricity. In other instances, the swimmer may feel some tingling when there’s a mild electric current flowing. The tingling can turn into a deadly shock if the swimmer attempts to leave the water by climbing onto a metal ladder or dock, especially if the electricity’s path is in a direct line between him and the boat.


    The key is to recognize that even a tingling or minor electrical sensation while swimming is dangerous. If you feel one, avoid contact with metal so the electricity doesn’t use your body as a conductor, says Morse.


    Code tightening is coming



    Grounding and GFIs will help, but more needs to be done to tighten the National Electrical Code, says Morse. “I think everything in a marina should be adequately ground fault protected,” Morse said. “The national electric code does not yet require that.”


    The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which revises the National Electric Code, is working on just that, said Mark Cloutier, an NFPA senior electrical engineer.


    Notes John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL, "UL and others are already working hard to make changes to applicable codes to help reduce these types of incidents."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2016
    Vikingstaff and Spoiledrotten like this.
  3. amr7333

    amr7333 Moderator

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    Very good information to think about. 


    Thanks for the informative post. 
     
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  4. Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh Commodore

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    Thank you 


    I hope others see it as educational and not sensational


    Lives are at stake 


    A worthwhile read 


    [​IMG]
     
  5. SEMPERFI8387

    SEMPERFI8387 Moderator

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  6. goldnrod24

    goldnrod24 Moderator

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  7. Bamaman

    Bamaman Well-Known Member

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    My father had our boat dock wiring reversed after he cut the wiring with a lawn mower.  He was white to black and black to white on the splice.  When he dived in the water for an afternoon swim, 110 volts hit him.  And he barely got out of the water.


    A couple of years later, we were coming in after dark and saw sparks when our boat hit the cables on the lift.  I knew immediately my father had done the same thing again.  He'd noticed many fish floating around the water's surface.


    Reversing polarity is no big deal on lighting.  But when electric motors are involved, it's so important to get it right.  The penalty could be death.
     
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  8. Bayfield Cty.

    Bayfield Cty. Active Member

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    I have never heard or even thought about this hazard! Great safety tip. OMG.
     
  9. tcpip95

    tcpip95 Well-Known Member

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    IMHO you can't talk enough about this!
     
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  10. Bamaman

    Bamaman Well-Known Member

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    We had an electrocution in our community this weekend in a swimming pool.  The gentleman was overcome, and his son didn't know the problem.  The son jumped in and was also overcome.  The mother tried to pull the son out of the water, and electricity hit her on the hand. 


    The biggest problem is that the mother ran next door for help--instead of finding the electrical box and cutting off the electricity immediately.  Her husband died and the son is in critical shape in the hospital.


    And while this was going on, I was running 6 gauge wiring to a GFC load center to hook up my new hot tub.  Fortunately I got the wiring right.
     
  11. lakeliving

    lakeliving Well-Known Member

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    Such a shame. We've had hot tubs for years and are always cognizant of the wiring and hazards.


    What tub did you get? We have a Master Spas lsx1000
     
  12. Baroda5

    Baroda5 Well-Known Member

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  13. lakeliving

    lakeliving Well-Known Member

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    How far can current travel and be deadly in the water? Our beach area is probably 50' from our neighbors dock that has power.
     
  14. H2GO

    H2GO Well-Known Member

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    Pure water is actually a very poor conductor but what does allow electricity to flow through the water is the junk and chemicals in the water, including salt. So it depends on the water quality and what the water contains. The human body is a significantly better conductor of electricity than water which is why a human will get electrocuted so easy when mixed with water/electricity. Path of least resistance.
     
  15. tcpip95

    tcpip95 Well-Known Member

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  16. BigKahuna

    BigKahuna Well-Known Member

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    Oh man an unfortunate tragedy for that family......
     
  17. The Wanderer2

    The Wanderer2 Active Member

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    Very sad, I was there when this happened.
     
  18. Bamaman

    Bamaman Well-Known Member

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    My father was famous for not wearing his glasses when working around his lake house. He cut the Romex going to our boathouse with the lawn mower. He's mistakenly spliced the wires black to white, white to black--disrupting the polarity. Next time he took a swim, he was just about electrocuted. Some how, he got out of the water. He had been wondering why so many dead fish were floating around that week.

    A few years later, the wiring was bad. I came into the bathhouse at night and saw sparks fly when the boat touched the cables. My father was up to his old tricks.

    Another issue is most boathouses do not have the proper exterior Romex wiring or proper conduit from the house. Water puddles behind seawalls and regular Romex rots and shorts out which is very hazardous to walkers.
     

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