The arrival of summer marks the start of swimming season. While warm weather and the activities that follow can be very fun, they also can open the door to dangerous situations if a swimmer isn’t careful. Lakes, pools, and marinas in particular, are a few places where accidents can occur. These accidents include slips, falls, and electric shock drowning. Below are three water safety tips to help both children and even some adults avoid injuries in the water this summer.
1. Understand What Electric Shock Drowning Is
Electric shock drowning (ESD) occurs when electrical wiring, which typically exists underneath docks, contacts the water in a lake, pool, or marina. Electric shock drowning cases go unreported because these victims aren’t actually electrocuted. As a person swims closer and closer to an electrical conduit in the water, that person’s muscles become paralyzed. This leads these swimmers to drown. One of the reasons ESD cases are underreported is because they are commonly reported as “drowning” accidents.
Electric shock drowning can occur in freshwater pools and brackish waters in addition to lakes and marinas. In freshwater pools, the most common source of electric shock is faulty wiring in a pool’s underwater lights. Electric shock drowning accidents are very unlikely to occur in the ocean because dissolved salt is an insulator of electricity rather than a conductor.
If a friend or family member is involved in an electric shock drowning accident, it is important to stay calm and understand the appropriate steps to follow that may save a swimmer’s life. Follow these steps to aid an electric shock drowning victim:
- Shut off any electrical switches or circuit breakers
- Use a carbon fiber rod to grab a swimmer and then pull them to safety and call 911
- Once a swimmer is safe, confirm that a person isn’t conductive and perform CPR (if no defibrillator is available) until 911 arrives
2. Avoid Swimming in Any Bodies of Water That Are “Unmarked”
Swimming in unmarked bodies of water exposes any swimmer to serious electrocution hazards. Any dock on a pond or lake that is on a private property may have electrical wiring underneath it. In states like Missouri, Tennessee, and Iowa, any private land that is opened up to the public for recreational use makes that landowner immune from any electric shock accident-related lawsuit.
Swimming in unfamiliar waters makes it very difficult to inspect the potential electrical hazards that may exist, which can leave a curious child more susceptible to an electric shock injury. Unmarked ponds and lakes typically do not have a Dock Lifeguard, which sets off an alarm when a potential electricity hazard is discovered or current is detected in the water.
3. Be Aware of All Potential Hazards That Exist
Before using a body of water open to the public for recreational use, it is best to ask the landowner if they have inspected their docking wires in the past year. If a landowner fails to disclose a potential electrical hazard, avoid swimming in that residence’s pond or lake.
Be aware of any potential sharp objects that could puncture skin at public pools or even broken glass in a private residence that could have come from multiple sources. Avoiding any unfamiliar ponds and lakes is a good idea. In many cases, the hazards that come with swimming in unfamiliar ponds and lakes aren’t obvious until after an injury occurs. Walking with caution can help avoid slip and fall accidents. If there is electricity in the water, avoid using a metal ladder as it may exacerbate an electric shock injury.
Swimming in the late spring, summer, and early fall should be nothing but fun. If you proceed with caution, situational awareness, and electric shock drowning knowledge, a lot of water-related injuries can be prevented. There is an abundance of hazards in the world that children are exposed to. Don’t make recreational swimming one of them.
Guest post by David Kranker, Electrocution Lawyers, PLLC