NFPA Reminds Boaters And Swimmers Of Potential Electric HazardsPublished on July 3, 2020
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding people about potential electrical hazards that exist in swimming pools and hot tubs, onboard boats and in waters surrounding boats, marinas, and launch ramps.
While most people are unaware of electrical dangers posed in water environments such as electric shock drowning (ESD), each year people are injured or killed from these hazards.
Electric shock drowning happens electrical systems leak electric current into the water. The current then passes through the body and causes paralysis. When this happens, a person can no longer swim and ultimately drowns.
“With limited staff at marinas and people obeying social distancing protocols, the onus is on individuals to keep themselves, their loved ones, and the people who might have to rescue them out of harm’s way,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.
Tips for swimmers:
- Never swim near a marina, dock, or boatyard.
- While in a pool or hot tub look out for underwater lights that are not working properly, flicker, or work intermittently.
- If you feel a tingling sensation while in a pool, immediately stop swimming in your current direction. Try and swim in a direction where you had not felt the tingling. Exit the water as quickly as possible; avoid using metal ladders or rails. Touching metal may increase the risk of shock.
Tips for boat owners:
- Contact your local marina or boatyard in advance to learn about any local requirements in response to the pandemic that must be followed – especially if you are a transient customer.
- Avoid entering the water when launching or loading a boat. These areas can contain stray electrical currents in the water, possibly leading to electric shock drowning or injury from shock, including death.
- Each year, and after any major storm that affects the boat, have the boat’s electrical system inspected by a qualified marine electrician to be sure it meets the required codes of your area, including the American Boat & Yacht Council. Make the necessary repairs if recommended.
- Check with the marina owner who can also tell you if the marina’s electrical system has recently been inspected to meet the required codes of your area, including the National Electrical Code® (NEC®).
- Have ground fault circuit protection (GFCI and GFPE) installed on circuits supplying the boat; use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that bear the proper listing mark for marine applications when using electricity near water. Test GFCIs monthly.
NFPA has additional codes and standards that apply to boatyards, marinas and floating buildings as well as swimming pools, hot tubs, and fountains, and their related electrical safety issues. Find these resources and more by visiting www.nfpa.org.