Boat and Dockside Electrical Safety
Recent Lake Fatalities Highlight Need for Electrical Safety Actions
July has brought tragic reminders of electrical hazards that can happen around boats and boat docks. This past month, 26-year-old Jennifer Lankford was swimming with family in the Lake of the Ozarks. She was electrocuted when she touched a dock that is believed to have had faulty wiring. Also at Lake of the Ozarks, a 13-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother received fatal electrical shocks while swimming near a dock.
Two boys, ages 10 and 11, lost their lives as a result of receiving an electrical shock while swimming between house boats on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee.
"Make sure that the dock area is safe. This means making sure electrical connections are properly installed and safely maintained," adds Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. "Your loved ones' lives just might depend on it." Even if you are just renting the dock, it is important that you notify the dock owner of any safety violations so that they can be fixed immediately.
Wet environments are particularly dangerous when it comes to electricity. While regulations might vary by location, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that electricity-related drowning can be prevented by regular inspections for ground-fault failure and by strict enforcement of the National Electric Code through frequent inspections of pools and docks.
An important step to ensure safety around boat docks and swimming pools is to include ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. Make sure the GFCI is professionally installed to prevent shock, electrocution, and injury. Safe Electricity and Cuivre River Electric Cooperative urge boat owners to have dockside electrical systems installed by professional electricians guided by National Electric Code and to have these systems inspected regularly to avoid tragedy. Boat wiring should be in compliance with American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards.
When boating or fishing this summer, be aware of your surroundings and potential electrical hazards. "Always check the location of nearby power lines before boating or fishing," advises Hall. "Contact between your boat and a power line could be devastating." Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines.
Safe Electricity is a public awareness program from the Energy Education Council (EEC). Cuivre River Electric Cooperative has partnered with EEC through the Safe Electricity program. Get more information at SafeElectricity.org.
Cuivre River is the largest Member-owned electric cooperative in Missouri, providing dependable electric service to over 59,500 homes and businesses in St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Pike and Montgomery counties. For more information, call (636) 528-8261, 695-4700, (800) 392-3709 or visit www.cuivre.com.