People are on the water many months out of the year in Florida, and this summer will be no exception. The beautiful beaches and marinas throughout the Sunshine State provide many opportunities for recreation and sport, but they can also be the source of an unexpected danger you may not know about – electric shock in the water.
The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association calls electrified water an invisible drowning risk. Most people are unaware this type of risk exists, and it is impossible to tell if the water surrounding a boat or marina is electrified until you jump in or make contact with a metal surface that is touching the electrified water. In fact, some people who mysteriously drown in marinas, despite being able to swim, may have been electrocuted in the water with nobody knowing the true cause.
How does water at the marina or near your boat become electrified, you may wonder? It can help to think of your boat or the dock as large electrical appliances. If you drop your hair dryer in the bathtub, for example, the water will be electrified and dangerous to touch until you unplug the hair dryer. The same applies to your boat or the marina – until you turn off the power, and locate and repair the source of the electrical leakage, the surrounding water can be deadly.
You can protect yourself and your family from water electrocution this summer by taking the following precautions:
- Avoid swimming in the marina.
- If you feel a tingle in the water while swimming, swim away from the boat or dock and call for help. Warn others not to jump into the water.
- Perform regular inspections and maintenance on electrical components at the dock and on your boat.
- Use a marine electrical charge detector to test the water before getting in.
- Install plastic or wood ladders on your boat and dock, instead of metal.
If you understand the risks and educate your family, you may prevent a tragedy this boating season.