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Electric shock in marinas: the invisible danger

Warmer weather is finally here, and you are itching to get your boat on the water. We want you and your family to enjoy a fun boating season and to avoid tragedies. You may understand the dangers of boating while intoxicated and swimming alone or without flotation devices, but you and other boating enthusiasts in Rhode Island might not have heard about the dangers of electric current leakage in the water.

The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association warns that electrical current in the water is an invisible killer. You cannot see current leaking from your boat or the dock, and there is no safe way to tell the water has an electrical charge without the proper detecting equipment. When faulty wiring electrifies metal underwater and leaks into the surrounding waters, swimmers can drown when the current locks their muscles. Electrical current can also cause serious burns or heart failure. You might find it especially frightening to learn that you may not realize a loved one is being electrocuted until it is too late.

How can you prevent this situation from occurring? It is important to remember the following precautions:

  • Discourage swimming in marinas.
  • Use a device that detects electric leakage from the dock and in the water.
  • Instead of a metal ladder, use a plastic one that does not conduct electricity.
  • Regularly inspect the dock and your boat’s electrical system for faulty wiring.
  • Install circuit breakers that will shut off the power during an accidental leakage.
  • Teach your family members to swim away from the dock or boat if they feel tingling in the water and to call for help.

You understand the importance of addressing every potential danger during the boating season. Knowing that electrical hazards are one of the dangers you or your family might face can help you keep the season safe and fun.

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