Carmen Johnson, a 15-year-old high school cheerleader from Alabama, mysteriously drowned last month after jumping into Smith Lake. However, local authorities believe they may have found the culprit behind Johnson’s passing – electric shock death (ESD).
ESD occurs when electricity “leaks” in to the water, usually from electrical appliances and devices on nearby boats and docks. Electric currents cannot travel underwater, which is why when a human body enters an electrified body of water, the current can pass through the body and cause muscular paralysis, drowning and, in some cases, death.
Unfortunately, electrified water displays no sign of unsafe conditions. Water can also be safe until something electrical is turned on and allows an electric current to make its way into the water. Electricity can leak through frayed wires, malfunctioning grounding systems and incorrect installation of electrical devices.
According to the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association, swimming near a boat or dock leaking electricity is the equivalent of getting into a bathtub with a hairdryer. The group also believes that ESD is likely responsible for several unexplained drownings around boats and marinas. Many guidelines and safety rules on boats and docks attempt to address the dangers of electrical equipment near and the on the water, but many times the issue doesn’t makes itself present until it’s too late.
Before going out on the water as the weather gets warmer, take into the consideration the following recommendations to prevent ESD:
- Test your boat to make sure it’s not leaking electricity.
- Have a qualified electrician take care of all electric work needed on your boat or dock.
- Never use household extension cords to power a docked boat.
- Do not swim within 100 yards of a dock, boatyard, or marina.
“The culture has always been to go swimming down at the docks,” ESD expert David Rifkin told Boating Magazine. “It’s a tough nut to crack, but if the dock has electrical power, don’t swim around it.”
Source: Independent Journal