A 34 year old New Jersey man remains in critical condition, at the time of this article, after receiving an electric shock inside a pool at the Aztec Motel in Wildwood Crest NJ. The apparent electric shock drowning (ESD) victim was discovered floating in the pool, around 8:30 PM on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, by other motel guests who responded to cries from the man’s young son. One of the guests jumped into the pool to save him and went into convulsions after making contact with the pools skimmer. He was quickly pulled from the pool. The original victim was removed from the pool after a maintenance worker finally turned off the power. He was revived after 12 minutes of and transported to a nearby hospital.
The manager of the motel said he was sickened by what happened but claimed that the pool was inspected and bonded by a licensed electrician only three weeks ago.
ESD also caused the death of a 15 year old Alabama girl a month earlier after she dove from a dock. A ladder lowered into the lake from the dock carried a charge from a faulty light switch. The parents of the victim, Carmen Johnson have since launched a public awareness campaign regarding ESD. Their story was nationally broadcast on Today and Good Morning America.
What Causes Electric Shock Drowning
Many people are unaware of the danger of electric shock drowning. Electric current can enter of water from faulty electrical wiring or equipment from a dock, a boat or bulkhead lighting. Almost all electric shock drowning occurs in fresh water from AC current. When current is in the water it will travel to ground. A person’s body is a better conductor than the fresh water so the current will flow through the body. Salt water is 50 to 1000 percent more conductive than fresh water. The conductivity of the human body is close to that of salt water. In most cases the current in salt water will travel around the body on its path to ground. The pulsating path of AC current along with its higher voltage makes it far more dangerous than lower voltage DC current. In fact, there have been no recorded cases of electric shock drowning in connection with DC current. Electric shock may be responsible for more drowning than realized.
Reducing the Chances of ESD
There are many different ways to reduce the risks of electric shock drowning to you and to others:
- Make people, especially children, aware of the dangers of swimming around dock and boats.
- Always shut off power to a dock before entering or allowing others to enter the water
- Have swimming pool filtering and lighting equipment inspected by a qualified, licensed electrician annually
- Have boats tested for stray electric power or test yourself with a clamp meter.
- Never swim in a marina, especially in fresh water
- Never swim within one hundred yards of a dock.
- Be sure your dock is equipped with a GFCI/ELCI and have it tested annually
- Be sure your boat is equipped with a GFCI-ELCI and have it tested annually
- Only use extension cords for shore power that are UL listed for wet locations.
If you are in the water and feel a tingle do not swim toward the dock. Try to remain upright and back away. Yell to alert others to stay out of the water. Try to get to shore at least one hundred yards from the dock.
If you should find someone in a pool, lake or other body or water that is a possible a victim of ESD, follow this rule: Reach, Throw and Row, but Don’t Go. If there is a source of power nearby shut it off immediately.
ESD victims are good candidates for CPR. Learn to perform CPR and you may save an ESD victims life one day.
Electric Shock Drowning Due to Negligence
In the case of the man who received the heavy electric shock in the motel pool, there was apparently negligence involved. The negligence may be on the part of the motel owner, the electrical inspector, the pool equipment manufacturer or a combination. Guests at hotels, motels, waterparks, supervised recreation areas, and marinas should expect that precautions are taken to ensure their safety. When a person is injured due to negligence of another party they should retain an experienced premises liability attorney. The attorney will have the skill to determine who was at fault when the accident occurred.
Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group has successfully represented victims of accidents that occurred in and around water attractions. If you or someone you care about was injured or if you lost a loved one due to an accident at a pool, public lake, marina or waterpark, speak to a qualified premises liability attorney at Dolman Law. Simply call 727-853-6275 to set up a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652