Spending time on the water is meant to be enjoyable, relaxing and refreshing. With that in mind, we encourage you to be mindful of certain circumstances that might put you and your family at risk. Fresh water boaters in particular should pay close attention to electricity that services boats, docks and marinas. If the electric service has not been installed or maintained properly, a swimmer may be at risk of electric shock drowning.

What you need to know


  • Electric shock drowning can occur when a typically low-level alternating current passes through the body while immersed in fresh water. The force can cause skeletal muscular paralysis, which may lead to drowning. This shock can happen in any natural water, but becomes fatal in fresh water due to lower water conductivity.
  • Large amount of freshwater runoff into seawater also can produce the same conditions
  • Electric shock can occur when a boat is powered by an external power source, such as a boat with a generator sharing power with another vessel.
  • If your generator is wired and maintained to American Boating and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards, your risk is greatly reduced-as long as the power is contained onboard, and not shared or improperly used.

How to Protect your Family


  • Do not permit any swimming near a freshwater dock, marina or boat that has a electrical service or an external power source.
  • Be sure that the electrical service to your dock, boat and marina are regularly inspected and maintained by a licensed electrician. The service to your dock or marina facility should include a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) that is compliant with the National Electric Code (NEC) 2011 Marina Ground Fault Protection Article 555.3.
  • Consult your ABYC-certified marine electrician to have your vessel's electrical system inspected and maintained on a regular basis. The system also should be updated to include an equipment leakage circuit interrupter (ELCI). ELCI's are now required for all new vessels with AC dockside power.

(Source: AIG)


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