If you own a boat and/or
a dock, take steps now to help prevent a
tragedy. The Energy Education Council’s Safe
Electricity program advises, “Prevent deadly
shocks. Check your boats and docks.”
July 2012 saw some
horrific fatal accidents near boats and boat
docks. A 26-year-old woman was swimming with
family in the Lake of the Ozarks and was
electrocuted when she touched an energized
dock ladder. 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 private dock; officials
cited an improperly grounded circuit as the
cause. In Tennessee, two boys, ages 10 and
11, lost their lives as they were shocked
while swimming between houseboats on
Cherokee Lake, a result of on-board
generator current apparently entering the
water through frayed wires beneath the boat.
An important step in
helping prevent such tragedies is to ensure
proper installation and maintenance of
electrical equipment on docks and on boats.
Take the time to inspect all of the
electrical systems on or near the water.
Safe Electricity, along
with the American Boat and Yacht Council and
International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers/National Electrical Contractors
Association, recommends adhering to these
steps in order to enhance water recreation
safety and accident prevention:
All electrical installations should be
performed by a professional electrical
contractor familiar with marine codes
and standards and inspected at least
once a year.
Docks should have ground fault circuit
interrupter (GFCI) breakers on the
circuits feeding electricity to the
The metal frame of docks should be bonded to
connect all metal parts to the
alternating current (AC) safety ground
at the power source. That will ensure
any part of the metal dock that becomes
energized because of electrical
malfunction will trip the circuit
Neighboring docks can also present a shock
hazard. Make your neighbors aware of the
need for safety inspections and
maintenance. Marinas should comply with
NFPA and NEC codes.
Here are a few additional
tips to keep in mind for your boat’s
electrical system, particularly those with
Regardless of the size of boat, maintenance
of the electrical system should be done
by a professional familiar with marine
Have your boat’s electrical system checked
at least once a year. Boats should also
be checked when something is added to or
removed from their systems.
Boats with AC systems should have isolation
transformers or equipment leakage
circuit interrupter (ELCI) protection,
comply with ABYC standards, and should
be serviced by an ABYC Certified®
If you are in the water
and feel electric current:
Shout to let others know.
Tuck your legs up to make yourself smaller.
Try to go out away from anything that could
Do not head to boat or dock ladders to get
If you are on the dock or
shore when a swimmer feel electrical
Do not jump in.
Throw them a flotation device.
Eliminate or turn off the source of
electricity as quickly as possible.
Then call for help.
Learn more at SafeElectricity.org and www.abycinc.org.
Detects Electrical Current in the Water
Visual and Audible Warning of Electrical
Current (AC or DC) in the water
Weather resistant enclosure
Super bright LED indicator
Detects hazardous voltage and current in water
or on dock
Radius of Detection; approximately 40'. Water
conditions and underwater objects may
Should not be used as substitute for correct
Detects if dock is electrified or water is
Professional installation available
Dock Lifeguard, LLC, was
formed in July of 2012 after two engineers
heard about three deaths from electrocution
that happened at their local lake over the
Fourth of July weekend. In
two separate incidents two young children
and one woman were electrocuted while
swimming in the water next to their docks.
The result of these
unfortunate incidents was the inspiration
behind the Dock Lifeguard product. The
solution was not simple, as many variables
affect current detection in the water.
Characteristics of metal change over time
when placed in the water, making this
dilemma require an engineered solution.
Dock Lifeguard - Helping Protect you and
your loved ones