Electric Shock Drowning (ESD), or drowning due to an electric shock, is an increasing phenomenon near docks and boats in freshwater lakes likely due to the increased use of electrical systems and appliances aboard boats. This may seem like an outlandish problem however deaths and injuries related to ESD have been on a steady rise in the past few years. Instances of ESD have been reported in freshwater lakes from California to Ohio.
ESD results when an electrical appliance is not properly installed or maintained. The appliance “bleeds” electrical currents into the water which shocks or electrocutes nearby swimmers.
It does not take much to temporarily incapacitate or electrocute a human. 15 milliamps can cause paralysis in most people. It takes about one-third of the electricity of a 40-watt light bulb to kill a person in a few seconds. To put that in perspective, a double AA battery produces 2400 milliamps in an hour.
Electrical systems “bleed” for a number of reasons. The most common examples are improperly wired boats, using extension cords that lead from the dock to the boat, improperly maintained installed equipment. Water is a very corrosive environment therefore it is easy for electronics to be compromised.
Las Vegas may seem like a strange place to warn people of the dangers of ESD but summer is coming which means boating trips to Lake Mead. Be mindful on those trips. If the water feels “tingly” that likely means there is an electrical current in the water. Try to avoid swimming near boats and docks. “ESD related deaths are only going to increase as boats become more wired and advanced,” warned injury lawyer in Las Vegas Kristin Cogburn. “Create a maintenance schedule and regularly check the waters around your boat. It could save someone’s life.”