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Letter to the editor

Beware of electricity when enjoying lake

POSTED: July 28, 2013 8:00 a.m.

A full lake is beautiful, but there is a potential problem that has not been addressed yet.  Your article stated “Some marina executives have had issues with higher (water) levels, including electrical problems…” 

That caught my attention because the Aug./Sept. 2013 issue of BoatU.S. magazine has an article on “Electric Shock Drowning” (ESD) in fresh water lakes.  This is caused by incorrectly wired AC shore power on docks and boats, which can leak small amounts of electricity into the water.

Taking a path through a swimmer’s body, a stray current can cause paralysis and drowning.  Many unexplained drownings may be due to ESD since there is no sign of electrical injury in autopsies.

In most cases, electricity enters the water when an electrical fault occurs aboard a boat, and it may be intermittent.  Water that feels “safe” can be energized with deadly electricity in a split second when someone on the boat turns on a light switch, or the cycling on of a hot water heater, battery charger, A/C unit or other electronic device begins.

ESD’s are occurring more frequently, but the public is unaware.  In 2006, there was an ESD on Lake Lanier, and just this summer there were two on lakes in Kentucky.

Boat owners, dock owners and marina owners need to educate themselves on ESD’s.  Two very good sources of ESD information online are:  and


Jo Williams



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