Summertime is here, which means we’re ready for a nice dip in the water. For those of us heading to the lake, it’s important to be aware of the electrical dangers you may encounter around the dock. Before you head out on the water, take some time to read through these tips so you can keep yourself and your family safe.
#1. Understand the danger
Outdated wiring and a lack of proper safety equipment on boats and docks can cause situations where electricity “leaks” into the water. This is called an electric shock drowning, and it can slowly cause muscular paralysis that can keep you from moving.
You will not be able to see a current in the water, and the shocking feeling may be so minor that you won’t notice. If you are swimming and feel a tingling sensation, shout to let others know. Tell others not to enter the water, and shut down shore power. Try to stay upright, tuck your legs up to make yourself smaller and swim away from anything else that may be energized. Do not swim toward a boat or ladder to get out. This can cause serious electrical shock if you touch metal while the water is electrified.
If someone else is in the water, who you suspect is getting shocked, do not get into the water yourself. Throw them a flotation device. Have the power turned off immediately to protect others who are in the water and alert anyone who is still in the water to the danger. Educate others about the dangers of swimming near a dock, and never allow anyone to get in the water if you fear there may be an electrical current nearby.
#2. Install ground fault circuit interrupters
If you are a boat owner, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are essential to protect yourself and others. GFCIs help by monitoring the current that goes through the circuit and stops any leaks or shorts that may happen. You need to frequently check these GFCIs to ensure they are fully operational and have no issues working. Damaged cords or frayed wires could be a huge issue, as they can cause shocks. Get rid of any damaged equipment immediately and repair it as quickly as possible.
#3. Check on your neighbors
Just because your dock is safe doesn’t mean they all are. Even if you abide by all the proper safety standards, a neighboring dock may not be safe and can injure others. Take time to talk with your fellow dock owners about safety and how to prevent electrical shock. If you notice an issue with another dock, point it out. By doing so, you’re keeping everyone in the water safe from electrical hazards. You may even consider hosting a yearly safety festival where other boaters can come together to discuss safety tips and each of you can check that your dock is compliant with the marina’s safety standards.