Service in Annapolis, Cook Electric
Written by Larry Cook

Prevent Electric Shock Drowning at Your Pier or Marina

The summer boating season is now in full swing, but many boaters aren’t prioritizing electrical safety. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) wants to raise awareness regarding Electric Shock Drowning (ESD).

ESD happens when there is an electrical current leaking from a boat, pier or marina into the water. This type of low level alternating current is dangerous if it passes through the body of a nearby swimmer with enough force to cause skeletal muscular paralysis. In incidents like these, victims have drowned. 

Studies by the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association found that occurrences of ESD have been in fresh water. In addition, most ESD fatalities happened close to private & public marinas and docks.

ESFI Preventative Measures

 The ESFI advises swimmers to obey all signs that prohibit swimming near docks and marinas. Marina owners and boaters should implement proper maintenance practices with regular safety inspections to ensure electrical equipment is used safely.   

The following summarizes the safety steps ESFI recommends to reduce the risk of ESD:

  • Prohibit swimming or wading close to docks.
  • Do not go into the water while loading or launching a boat.
  • If your body tingles while swimming, the water may be electrified. Swim back in the same direction you came from and leave the water quickly without touching any metal objects.
  • Hire a certified marine electrician to perform regular safety inspections of your boat’s electrical system.
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) on your boat and test them monthly.
  • Install Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs) on your boat to protect nearby swimmers.
  • Use only UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved extension cords, marine or shore power cords, receptacles, and plugs.
  • Damaged, frayed or altered cords and plugs should never be used.
  • While turning off electrical switches or devices, do not stand in water.
  • Keep your boat a minimum distance of 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Do not enter water that may be electrified to rescue a struggling swimmer. If possible, turn off all nearby power sources as fast as possible instead.

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