Unknowingly, many swimmers and boat and marina operators place themselves in the face of danger by swimming near electric-powered boats and docks. This innocent act of fun can turn tragic as electric shock drowning occurs each year. Raising awareness among marina and boat operators can help prevent electric shock drowning or other electrical injuries while out on the water. Additionally, there are electrical safety precautions boaters must adhere to to ensure the electrical safety of the entire marina.
Learn how to keep marinas and docks safe this summer with these tips from ESFI
- Do not allow swimming in or around your marina. While you cannot prevent individuals from acting on their own accord, posting signs prohibiting swimming is an easy way to help prevent an electric shock drowning incident. Place warning signs in prominent areas around your marina such as: “ELECTRIC SHOCK HAZARD RISK: SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
- Have your dockside electrical system (pedestal) inspected and updated by a qualified electrician annually. If you are thinking of having a new one installed, have it installed by a qualified electrician to be sure it meets the NEC and NFPA safety codes and standards.
- Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed on the dock and test them once a month.Use portable “UL- Marine Listed” GFCIs when using electricity near water. They will decrease the chances of electrically related injuries and deaths.
- Require boat owners and renters to use only “UL- Marine Listed” shore or marine power cords, plugs, receptacles, and extension cords that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or ETL SEMKO (ETL). They are specifically designed to keep people safe when using them near water. Never use cords that are frayed or damaged or that have had the prongs removed or altered. Damaged cords exposed to water could result in electric shock drowning or other electrically-related injuries.
- If you question the safety of your dock’s electrical system, immediately turn off the power supply at the electrical panel and do not turn it back on until it has been checked by a certified marine electrician.
- Immediately fix all electrical safety hazards and maintain routine inspections to prevent problems before they occur.
- Never stand or swim in water when turning off electrical devices or switches.
- Plan annual safety events at your marina where owners can learn about boat and dock electrical safety and have their boats inspected by licensed electricians.