Electric failures on your dock can cause drowning.

Electric Shock Drowning and how to protect swimmers and kayakers against it

They become tragic stories of electric shock drowning victims and are a sobering reminder that the same hidden risks of electric shock that exist in our swimming pools, saunas, and hot tubs may also exist in our lakes, canals and other bodies of water.

This is a risk about which the majority of people are ignorant to. We understand the dangers of getting shocked in a pool where water and electricity are inextricably linked via the use of water pumps, lighting devices, jets, and heaters. However, out on a lake or river, where none of these dangers SEEM TO exist, people feel secure. 

Regrettably, they are not. When the wiring on a boat, dock, boat launch, or marina is defective, and the electrical current is exposed, hazardous electrical current can be discharged into the water, sometimes powerful enough to induce muscular paralysis in a swimmer.

This blog article will explain what electric shock drowning is, its causes, sad cases of electric drowning, and suggestions for avoiding this tragedy. With paddle boardingm and kayaking becoming more common, having an alerting device on your waterfront may be a good idea.

ShockAlarm alerts swimmers of any electricity in the water and protecting against electric shock drowning.
ShockAlarm alerts swimmers of any electricity in the water.

What is electric shock drowning?

Electric shock drowning happens when defective wiring conducts an electric current into water, electrifying the water.

If someone is nearby and that electricity travels through the person’s body, the person’s body becomes a conductor. A person’s muscles may become paralyzed as a consequence, and the individual may become unable to swim, which may eventually result in drowning.

When it comes to boats and docks with electricity, this is especially possible since defective wiring, the usage of broken electrical cables and other equipment, and in contact with the surrounding water may all result in the water being electrified.

Electric shock drowning incidents

It’s one thing to speak about the details of what electric drowning is and quite another to discuss its dangers. It is quite another to come to terms with the reality of this catastrophe.

The following are some instances of electric shock drowning events that may and do happen:

Just recently, According to a recent report by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4, the Monongahela Police Department is investigating the drowning of James DeAngelo, 23, of Venetia, Pa., who was found unresponsive after swimming in the Monongahela River on July 4 2021.

Put-in-Bay, Ohio, was the scene of electrocution in which a 19-year-old man died in 2017 after coming in touch with an undiscovered electrical current leaking from his family’s 33-foot-long motorboat dock into western Lake Erie. The boat had just recently been connected to a power source known as “shore power” on the boat dock.

One of the most tragic incidents occurred in Toms River, New Jersey when a little girl was electrocuted after touching a metal boat lift’s electrified rail while rafting and swimming.

An adolescent girl in Alabama died after getting into touch with currents from old electrical work at a dock in her family’s property, according to the local news.

The founder of ShockAlarm testing the system on a pool.

Electric shock drowning prevention

Experts believe that the first step is to become aware of the risk. They recommend the following precautions:

  • Swimming near marinas is not recommended. Maintain a safe distance of at least 50 yards (half a football field). Swimmers are advised to remain at least 100 yards away from docks.
  • If someone in the water seems to be shocked, do not attempt to rescue them since you will most likely be shocked as well. Instead, cut off the electricity, call for assistance, toss a life preserver into the water, and tell anybody else who may be in the vicinity to get away.
  • Every year, have your swimming pool, hot tub, boat, and dock examined by a qualified professional. It is recommended that they are correctly connected with a ground-fault circuit interrupter, according to the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association (GFCI). If energy escapes into areas where it may be hazardous, these devices shut off the power.
  • Make sure that your dock electrician is licensed and insured. Choosing a professional who has been certified by the American Boat & Yacht Council is advisable. Check  your equipment between inspections and contact an electrician if you see any broken wiring.
  • To ensure that the electrical system on the dock is safe, boaters who rent a slip should check with the marina management or owner to see whether they arrange yearly inspections by a qualified electrician. Alternatively, “you can have an electrician come out and check your yacht once a year,” he explains.
  • Swim at a neighborhood or community pool? Check with the homeowner association representative or pool manager to be sure they do routine safety checks.
  • Any missing or loose caulking should be reported and repaired as soon as possible. “It is possible for water to seep behind the pool, hot tub, or Jacuzzi walls if the caulking is loose or absent. This increases the chance of coming into touch with a live electrical component. Furthermore, it indicates that routine maintenance is not being carried out.”

Try to swim away from anything that may potentially be charged with energy if you are in the water and get tingling sensations while swimming.

An electricity outlet for boat docks.
An electricity outlet for boat docks.

The best solution against electric shock drowning: an alerting device

ShockAlarm- Electric Shock Drowning Protection 

A floating buoy with a constantly monitoring alarm, ShockAlarm protects your family and friends from electrical shock drowning. It is easy to install and maintain. It is capable of detecting stray electrical currents that may be potentially hazardous.

Because this is a passive device, it is not linked to an electrical system. ShockAlarm will sound an alarm and display a warning light to notify the user when an electrical current is detected. Perfect for keeping an eye on your boat dock as well as near boat lifts and seawalls.

Shock Alarm measures for an electrical current in the water. If detected within 30 feet, it flashes and sounds making it easy to keep your swimmers safe!

The ShockAlarm alerting device can be purchased on Amazon for

Main features:

  • While monitoring, ShockAlarm is in constant touch with the water.
  • To use it, activate it and throw it in water, say under your boat dock, or next to your seawall.
  • Battery-operated — there is no introduction of energy into the water system.
  • You may carry the gadget with you to various monitoring locations since it is entirely portable.
  • The ShockAlarm system is completely sealed and watertight.

Shock Alert is another option of alerting device.

Other products to alert against electricity in the water are Dock LifeGuard and ShockAlert seen in action on the video below.

Max Francisco