Understanding the Dangers of Electric Shock Drowning

Understanding the Dangers of Electric Shock Drowning

While accident awareness is a priority among most boaters, most are unaware of the eminent danger of electric shock drowning (ESD). However, growing concern for these incidents has risen over the last few years as more high-profile incidents have surfaced that have caused death among children and young adults. As marinas are considered dangerous and harsh environments for electrical equipment, Marina Insurance can help to combat potential claims.

Many marinas lack ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which automatically shut off electrical power when they detect a leakage, according to NFPA Journal. While there are evident safety regulations put in place by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council, frequent inspections are rare as jurisdiction of authority is wavering.

“We’ve seen a number of cases where, if an inspection had been done every year, the problem wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point where it caused an accident,” said David Rifkin, founder of Florida-based Quality Marine Services.

The danger of electric shock drowning exists when boating dock’s electrical systems leak electrical current into the surrounding water. NFPA also states that depending on the amount of electricity, the person’s size, and proximity to power source, the damages suffered can range from minor injury to death. Although most of these incidents occur in fresh water, salt water entities are not immune to ESD perils.

As the concern mounts over ESD, NFPA seeks to address marina’s lack of safety regulations. The new guideline, NFPA 303, states that installation of ground fault protection at marinas and boatyard is required, ensuring they do not exceed 100 milliamps. If an electrical surge exceeds this figure, the power will be shut off by a circuit breaker. What’s more, they are striving to provide ground fault protection at the power pedestals that boats plug into at the harbor to prevent the whole dock from losing power in these circumstances.

Further, some states are considering banning swimming within 50 feet of marinas to avoid potential victims of electric shock drowning, as well. However, Florida’s committee wasn’t keen on enforcing this rule as they were uncertain about the extent of the affected areas and how signage should be posted. As legislation is pushed and dangers are evaluated, more information will become available.

At Merrimac Marine Insurance, LLC, we are dedicated to protecting the marine industry with quality and comprehensive coverage. To learn more about how we can safeguard your clients’ unique needs, we invite you to contact us today at (888) 344-1687.