Attention Boaters: Preventing ESD

Imagine a relaxing summer day on the water. Food is on the grill, extra towels and sunscreen are on the dock, and you have double-checked that your Dayville boat insurance is current. If you are like most people, however, the threat of electric shock drowning is a safety risk you have probably overlooked. Find out what ESD is and how you can prevent it.

Why ESD Happens

Electric shock drowning is an under-reported cause of death that occurs when electricity enters the water where people are swimming. Most people understand that electricity and water are a deadly combination and will run for shore when thunder rolls; however, few recognize the silent danger lurking around docks and marinas that are equipped with electrical outlets.

ESD can occur when there is a fault in the wiring of onshore facilities, or in a boat connected to a power supply on land. For example, if a short exists in the wiring to an onboard appliance such as a microwave, the boat will discharge a small amount of electric current into the water when someone uses that appliance. If a fault also exists in the dock’s wiring, then the situation can turn deadly.

How ESD Kills

The human body is an even better conductor of electricity than freshwater is, so people are especially vulnerable to electrocution when swimming in lakes and rivers. When those in the water receive an electrical current into their bodies, it results in muscle paralysis. Because they cannot move their arms and legs, victims are unable to swim away and quickly drown.

Paralysis occurs because electricity causes involuntary muscle spasms. For example, when people inadvertently grab a live wire on land, they often cannot let go of it due to an inability to move their hand muscles. Only 0.02% of the electricity used to power a single light bulb is enough to cause this type of muscle paralysis, and 0.12% can stop the heart.

How To Prevent ESD

The best way to ensure that your boat does not pose a threat to swimmers is to inspect it for electrical faults. Ask your insurance agent what is covered under boat insurance and whether your policy might pay for repairs to electrical wiring. If you own a dock, install a fault device at the breaker to keep electrical currents from flowing into the water.

The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association recommends that people never swim within 150 feet of boats, docks, or marinas that use AC electrical power for any purpose. They also point out that the presence of voltage detection devices does not ensure safety because starting a boat with an electrical short could create a deadly situation before swimmers have a chance to react.

About Byrnes Agency

At Byrnes Agency, we offer insurance solutions that can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for personal policies or commercial coverage, we have the right coverage for you. To learn more about our products, contact us today at one of our two locations.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read here and would like to know when we’ve published a new blog post, please “like” us on our Facebook page, and share this with your Connecticut neighbors. 

Dayville Office

Phone: (860) 774-8549 

394 Lake Rd

Dayville, CT 06241

United States

Hours of Operation: Monday- Friday 9:00am-5:00pm

Norwich Office

Phone: (860) 886-5498 

6 Consumers Avenue

Norwich, CT 06360

United States

Hours of Operation: Monday- Friday 9:00am-5:00pm

Social Title: ESD: An Under-Reported Cause of Drowning Deaths at Docks and Marinas

Social Description: Most people have never heard of ESD and don’t realize the risk of swimming at docks and marinas. Learn how to prevent this tragedy from occurring.