Electric shock felt by two local kayakers on the lake

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An electric shock felt by two residents in the lake serves as a reminder for Canyon Lake residents to inspect electrical wiring to and around docks, pools and spas.

During a Canyon Lake Public Safety Committee meeting, Special Enforcement Officer Gina Dickson reported that two residents felt an electrical current when they stuck an aluminum oar in the water.

The Special Enforcement Officer stated that it was the electric wiring from a boat dock that caused the shock. The officer further explained that the city’s Building and Safety Department currently does not inspect electrical wiring to docks, but they are looking into developing a standard for running electrical to docks. When asked what steps the city will be taking regarding electrical wiring to docks, City Manager Aaron Palmer said, “The city attorney is looking into the matter to see who is responsible for enforcing wiring to docks.”

According to the non-profit Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association, there is no visible warning or way to tell if water surrounding a boat, marina or dock is energized or within seconds will become energized with fatal levels of electricity.

Known as the silent killer, water electrocution drowning has been getting more attention since a 15 year-old girl from Alabama drowned in 2016 after receiving an electrical shock near the family’s boat dock.

The girl’s father, Jimmy Johnson, explained in an interview to CBS News that the source of the shock was a light switch that was half full of water. “When an aluminum ladder was placed in the water the electrical current traveled from the light switch down the dock, to the ladder and the surrounding water,” explained the father.

Since the sudden death of his teenage daughter, Jimmy has made it his mission to warn others about the dangers of electric shock drowning in hopes of preventing future tragedies. He recommends the following safety tips to prevent water electrocution drowning:

  1. Use a plastic ladder rather than a metal one. Metal is a conductor of electricity.
  2. If you start to feel a tingle, swim away from the dock or boat.
  3. Check all wiring around your dock, including your ground fault circuit breaker.
  4. Purchase a Dock Lifeguard, a device that detects electricity on your dock and in the water around your dock.

Electric shock drowning does not only occur in lakes. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 60 swimming pool and hot tub deaths caused by electrocution between 2000 to 2013.

CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton advises the best protection from water electrocution drowning is inspection, detection and correction of electrical hazards around water.

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  • Shock Alert

    Shock Alert’s mission is to help increase awareness of Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) and spread the message that no one should swim near a dock or marina where electricity is used. It is crucial to check water for any electricity present in the case that a person or pet falls in. Shock Alert allows you to check water for voltage gradients and alerts you if any dangerous electricity present. In the case that voltage is detected, it may also help you locate the source. If you are interested in more information, please visit us at http://www.shockalert.com.

  • elise

    It is important to note that no alert system can adequately function as a green light for safe swimming because these devices are reactive and not predictive in nature. In other words they cannot predict that three seconds from now the condition in the water will become lethal. It also cannot tell you that a lethal condition exists 20 feet away. Please do not use these devices to assure you of safety for swimming and water play. They are fine if used to alert the dock owner that hazardous conditions exists, but do not put your trust in them to ensure safety while engaged in water activities. Please see the ESDPA website for our position statement regarding these devices.

    Elise Lutrick
    ESDPA