Electric shock drowning (ESD) happens when marina or onboard electrical systems leak electric current into the water. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis, and results in drowning.

With summer in full swing, NFPA and Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) are joining forces to remind people about the potential electrical hazards that exist in swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, on board boats and in the waters surrounding boats, marinas and launch ramps.

Blog posts from NFPA’s Electrical Technical Lead Derek Vigstol:

MARINAS, LAKES, AND PONDS

Tips for swimmers
  • Never swim near a marina, dock or boatyard, or near a boat while it’s running.
  • Obey all “no swimming signs” on docks.
Tips for boat owners
  • Avoid entering the water when launching or loading your boat.  Docks or boats can leak electricity into the water causing water electrification.
  • Each year, and after a major storm that affects the boat, have the boat’s electrical system inspected by a qualified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes of your area, including theAmerican Boat & Yacht Council. Make the necessary repairs if recommended. Check with the marina owner who can also tell you if the marina’s electrical system has recently been inspected to meet the required codes of your area, including the National Electrical Code (NEC).
  • Know where your main breaker(s) are located on both the boat and the shore power source so you can respond quickly in case of an emergency.
  • Have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) installed on the boat; use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are Marine Listed when using electricity  near water. Test GFCIs monthly.

Blog: Fowler Electric Systems