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Electric Shock Drowning: A Hidden Danger In Fresh Water

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NC electrical shock lawyersIn a few months the weather will turn warm again and North Carolina (NC) residents and tourists will flock to the rivers and lakes such as the Blackwater and Lake Gaston to swim and boat. While I know they will enjoy themselves, I just recently learned that people having fun on fresh water face risks from an invisible killer, especially near boat marinas.

Boat and deck equipment and appliances can
leak voltage into the water and cause shock injuries and electrocutions.  I, for one, plan on checking to make sure the marinas at Lake Gaston have the proper safety equipment installed before I let my children swim in a marina area.

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Electric shock drowning is a danger that many parents don't even know exists. Sadly, I found out about this dangerous electrocution and electric shock hazard by reading an article about a family who lost their son to ESD on August 1, 1999, when  the boy was electrocuted while swimming at a fresh water marina on a tributary of the Willamette River near Portland, Oregon (OR).

As noted in a Huffington Post article, this tragedy would not have occurred if

  • If an equipment leakage circuit interrupter (ELCI) had been installed on the power boat that leaked voltage into the water where Lucas was swimming. It would have interrupted the circuit  and kept any electricity from leaking into the water; or
  • If the marina ahead of the boat's shore power had been equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breaker. Even 10 mA [milliamperes] of current would have tripped the GFCI and stopped any electricity from entering the water.

Electric shock drowning does not occur in salt water because salt water is a better conductor of electricity than the human body. Fresh water, however, doesn't conduct electricity, but people do.

The boy's untimely, tragic death led his father into a new career direction. He now lobbies Congress and/or other authorities seeking to require that all power boats have an ELCI installed to prevent electrical shorts, and wants every boat marina to have GFCIs at all electrical hookups so fresh water around marinas is safe for swimming and does not pose an electrocution risk.  I hope Congress seriously considers implementing these safety standards.

CA

 

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