Officials Warn Swimmers of Hidden Drowning Danger From Electric Currents


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With the unofficial start of boating season on Lake Michigan quickly approaching, officials are warning Illinois boaters and swimmers about a hidden danger lurking in fresh water.

Electric shock drowning, or ESD, is a rising threat in marinas and popular freshwater areas, and those at risk are often unaware of the potential danger, according to Safe Electricity, which launched an awareness campaign as part of National Safe Boating Week.

A swimmer can suffer ESD when electricity from a dock or from a boat plugged into shore power seeps into surrounding water. The electric current is not visible but can electrocute anybody who unwittingly swims into the electrified waters, and it can be deadly.

Kevin and Sheryl Ritz are among those advocating awareness about the risk of ESD. The couple lost their 8-year-old son, Lucas, more than a decade ago when he unknowingly swam into waters flowing with electricity from a nearby boat that was plugged into shore power.

“One second he was splashing, having a great time, and the next moment he’s quiet,” Kevin Ritz said in a statement.


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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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