safety, electricians, residential
Written by Larry Cook

Dock and Marina Electrical Shock Drowning Prevention

On April 16, 2016, 15-year-old Carmen Johnson died from electrical shock drowning (ESD) as she swam in Smith Lake, Alabama.  Weathered dock wiring conducted electric current into the water. Since the tragedy, Carmen’s parents, Carmen and Casey Johnson, have raised public awareness regarding ESD. Below are ESD prevention tips for those who use marinas or own a private dock.


Never allow swimming within 100 yards of a marina or dock that is using electrical power. Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) because ESD victims can be saved with the procedure.


Marina staff should be aware of ESD hazards. Signs should be posted prohibiting swimming at the facility. They should follow National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 303 and National Electric Code (NEC) 555 guidelines.

Private Docks

Seriously consider the risks before electrifying your private dock. If electricity is needed, hire a licensed electrician to ensure the wiring follows NFPA 303 and NEC 555 requirements. For docks already wired, have an electrician inspect for proper installation. Since docks are exposed to weather, inspections should be yearly. Ensure that all outlets providing power have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Emergency Procedures for Self

If you feel tingling, fight your instinct and don’t swim toward the dock or marina. Warn all others who are in and out of the water of danger. Do your best to remain above water and retreat at least 100 yards. Tell the owner to cut electricity immediately. Once out of the water, go to the hospital quickly for treatment.

ESD Victim Rescue Procedures

Drowning victims can’t speak and appear as if they’re climbing a ladder. In contrast, ESD victims shout and scream from the tingling, numbness and pain. Don’t enter the water. Call 911 or the VHF Channel 16 immediately. Turn off all power leading to the dock or marina. Get the victim out of the water by reaching, throwing or rowing. Use CPR if the victim is not breathing or doesn’t have a pulse.

Electrical Peace of Mind

Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs, including:

  • Commercial & Residential Electrical Installations
  • Marina & Residential Pier Wiring
  • Electrical Service & Repair
  • Specialty Electrical Services

For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at 410-266-9040. They will be very glad to help you.