No doubt… owning a boat dock can be loads of fun. Very little beats the time spent with family and friends on and around the water.
Yet, owning a boat dock can also be work. And if one isn’t careful and attentive to boat, dock, and boat lift care, being a dock owner can also carry some risk and sometimes, danger as well.
One of the most significant dangers a boat dock can present, is the risk of electric shock in the form of electric shock drownings and/or unintentional electric shock when dock care or maintenance is being performed in and around the water.
Here is some more information about electric shock drownings according to ElectricShockDrownings.org:
“Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) is the result of the passage of a typically low level AC current through the body with sufficient force to cause skeletal muscular paralysis, rendering the victim unable to help himself / herself, while immersed in fresh water, eventually resulting in drowning of the victim. Higher levels of AC current in the water will also result in electrocution. Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) has become the catch all phrase that encompasses all in-water shock casualties and fatalities.”
Electric shock drownings can happen any time water and electricity are in close proximity but most often this risk becomes a bigger factor on fresh water and lakes, in and around both public and private marinas and docks.
Usually, such dock electric shock threats occur when there is a stray electric current from the marina or dock, and even boats. When this happens, that current can literally “electrify” the surrounding water or electrical access points, such as metal components or normally neutral outlets and dock controls.
ElectricShockDrowings.org adds, “If an electric fault occurs on a boat while it is connected to a marina’s or dock’s shore power and the boat or marina is not properly wired to meet current ABYC and NFPA standards, the water surrounding the boat will become electrified.”
Unfortunately, the most common victims of electric shock drowning are children swimming nearby (https://www.electricshockdrowning.org/esd–faq.html). Furthermore, electric shock drownings have come to be known as a “silent killer” because in the past, it’s been nearly impossible to detect until it becomes a problem. By then, it’s often too late for such victims.
Here are some of the specific reasons electric shock drowning can be hard to detect and thus, prevent:
- In most situations, there isn’t a visible or audible way to know if surrounding water has been “energized” with dangerous (or deadly) levels of electricity.
- In many scenarios, a future victim of electric shock drowning won’t feel the electricity upon entering the water—even after swimming around a bit. In fact, it might not even be present initially but can quickly enter the swim surround or surrounding water from a fault on a boat or the dock itself.
- The stray electrical current might be surging or intermittent so the level of danger isn’t immediately noticeable.
As ElectricShockDrowing.org says:
“The fault that places deadly current into the water may only occur when a light switch is turned on, or when a hot water heater, battery charger, A/C unit or other electrical device cycles on. Water can appear and feel “safe” and in a split second become energized with deadly electricity.” They go on to explain, “Under the typical scenario, the victim’s muscles become paralyzed by the electrical current, he or she is unable to swim, and ultimately drowns. Unless there is a witness nearby to experience and report the sensation of electric shock in the water, the victim’s death is typically labeled a common drowning. In the vast majority of Electric Shock Drownings, the victim’s autopsy shows no signs of electrical injury and investigators often never learn that electricity was the cause of the drowning.”
In our lake areas, there have also been instances of electric shock issues after storms or when dock or boat lift owners attempt to do their own repairs.
As scary as all this sounds, until recently, there has not been a good way to help prevent electric shock drownings or to keep dock owners from being sometimes dangerously — or even fatally — shocked by problems created from stray electrical current on their dock(s).
Today, ShockIQ offers a solution to electric shock drowning and dock owner electric shock. And Marine Specialties Inc. is bringing that solution to you—lake dock owners on Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell.
The ShockIQ website sites about their dock shock prevention offering:
“ShockIQ has been developed by a team of high tech boaters and lake residents to keep your family safe. If you’re a residential dock owner, you have probably heard of the dangers of Electric Shock Drownings. Unfortunately, they can and do occur every year. ShockIQ continually monitors your dock frame and the water around the shock sensor. If stray electric current is detected, ShockIQ sounds an alarm and shuts off power to your dock. Paired with DockIQ, it will also notify your Smart Phone of the threat and that the power has been cut off. ShockIQ shuts off power to the dock – potentially saving lives!”
Are you interested in learning more about ShockIQ? Contact our team at Marine Specialties Inc. today!