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Electric Shock Drowning
Electric Shock Drowning is a shocking phenomenon. Electric shock drowning is something you may never have heard of. You may have heard of someone drowning in a marina. The body shows no signs that electricity contributed to the death and you have to be aware of the phenomenon in order to suspect it.
The marina and all the docked boats constitute a huge electrical system. The potential for less than perfection in the system is huge. If alternating current is leaking into the water from all this huge source of electricity, it just might choose to go through you. Fresh water is highly resistant to electricity so you would be the path of least resistance. In salt water, the electricity might choose the salt over you but donít count on it.
It is very difficult to insure that no stray current is in the water around a marina. Think about how many shore cables connect how many boats to the marina electrical supply. There are metres that can test for leaking current, however, it might be the boat that just hooked up to it and the hookup has not been yet tested. The marina may have just had something wear out.
Do not swim at a marina and do not play tag or other dangerous games on the docks where you might fall into the water. Do not run. Do not play with toys. No wake boarding or water skiing. You cannot know for sure if the dock, marina or a boat is hot.
The really horrible thing about this phenomenon is that even if you can swim, you can die rescuing someone who has been shocked in a marina. Do not jump into the water. Call 911 using phone, *16 to Coast Guard with a cell phone or radio. Radio is the most reliable since it broadcasts to many surrounding boaters. Get a buoyant heaving line or life ring to haul the person out. Reach for them to pull them in. Do not go in after them. A dead rescuer is useless.
Marinas should post no swimming signs and you should pay attention to them. If the marina you are at does not have no swimming signs make sure they are aware of the potential for electric shock drowning and the need for signs. Every marina should post signs and every person in the marina should keep an eye out for people who are breaking the rules.
The potential for electric shock drowning cannot be seen and it cannot be ignored.
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Canadian Pleasure Craft Training Centre
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