What is Electric Shock Drowning?

Electric Shock Drowning (ESD), also referenced as a silent killer, takes the lives of many people every year but so few are well versed with the subject. Electric shock drowning occurs when swimmers are exposed to electric currents in the water. Usually boaters and swimmers take every precaution in water safety but it’s not uncommon for electric currents to “escape” from low-level AC boats, docks or lights into the water, causing fatalities through either the shock itself or through drowning.

It’s typically caused by improper wiring or electrical connections on boats and docks. Such negligence can be fatal. If a loved one has lost their life due to an electric shock while swimming, make sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas to learn what legal actions you can take!

What Causes ESD And Where Does it Happen?

ESD can occur in both freshwater or saltwater and typically happens in public or private marinas and boat docks. By law, all electrical connections near any type of water are required to have working ground fault circuit interruption technology. When there is faulty wiring, even the smallest amount of electrical current can be fatal. Even a minor electric shock can paralyze a swimmers muscles and therefore making it impossible to swim. If you know someone who has suffered electric shock while swimming, contact an attorney in Las Vegas immediately. Electric leakage can occur in a variety of areas:

  • Boat docks and piers
  • Fishing piers
  • Marinas
  • Waterparks
  • Swimming pools and jacuzzis
  • Pool lights
  • Generators, pumps, motors, heathers and lights on boats
  • Any other electrical source near water

Unfortunately, there is no visual warning that water may be electrified. But it doesn’t take much electricity to cause drowning. As little as 10 milliamps (mA) can cause paralysis and lead to drowning. To put it in perspective, less than ⅓ of the electricity of a 40-watt bulb – 100 mA – is enough to kill someone if it directly hits the heart.

We’ve always been told to avoid appliances such as hair dryers and hair straighteners when around areas of water but we never expect a boat to be just as deadly in emitting electrical currents. In most circumstances, victims don’t immediately feel any electrical currents when they enter the water. Most often, electricity enters the water when an electrical fault occurs. This could be when a certain light switch, battery charger or other electrical devices are turned on. Water can appear to be safe but then in less than a second, can become fatal due to faulty wiring. This type of negligence demands for legal compensation. If you or a loved one has suffered ESD, contact a premises liability attorney in Las Vegas.

Electric Shock Drowning Liability

Special attention toward electrical safety on boats, marinas and other areas involving water is required. If electricity enters the water, the property owner is typically responsible for such negligence but it could also be the electrician or electrical inspector who installs and checks the equipment. In any circumstance, when ESD occurs, it’s imperative to seek the legal guidance of a lawyer.

Besides owners, there are many other causes such as lightning, faulty hydroelectric generators or damaged underwater power lines. Determining liability is often a challenge because in the majority of Electric Shock Drownings, the autopsy of the victim does not show any sign of electrical injury. Unless there is a witness nearby to experience and report that the electric shock in the water caused the drowning, the victim’s death is typically just labeled a common drowning. In fact, the Electric Shock Drowning Association has recorded 84 cases since 1986 but believe there are much more than what’s recorded. Because of this, it’s important you seek an experienced attorney in Las Vegas.

Signs of Electric Shock Drowning

It can be difficult to prevent an ESD death but everyone should be aware of the signs and understand how to respond to such a fatal emergency. Some of the signs include:

  • Tingling sensation
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin discoloration
  • Feeling frozen or unable to move

If you or someone you know suffers from the above while swimming, get out of the water immediately, stay upright and get medical help immediately. Warn other swimmers in the area and let everyone know so they can respond appropriately such as turning off all power sources immediately.

Preventing ESD

Owners of pools, docks and boats have a responsibility to maintain their equipment for the safety of others. For owners, it’s important they:

  • Install GFP (ground fault protection) devices and get them checked regularly by a qualified electrician
  • Have a licensed electrician check for faulty wiring on your boat or pool
  • Use an electrical tester to assess for continuity and defective wiring
  • Never use household extension cords on docks
  • Keep power supplies on docks turned off and unplugged when not in use
  • Never use damaged or frayed chords

If someone in the water appears to be shocked, do not jump in and try to save them. You will most likely end up shocked as well. Instead, turn off the power, call for help and throw in a lifesaver in the water. Electric Shock Drowning is very serious and until recently, there has been very little public awareness about ESD. But still, electric shock drowning continues to kill innocent victims, especially in tourist places such as Las Vegas where many escape to for fun in the hot summer sun. If someone you know has suffered ESD, seek out legal help from a lawyer who can fight for the compensation they deserve.

Call an Attorney If You or Someone You Know Was Electrocuted While Swimming

Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers has over 15 years of experience handling all types of personal injury cases throughout Nevada, including the rare Electric Shock Drowning. We fight hard for victims of this “deadly killer” to ensure justice and fair compensation is met. Give us a call at (702) 384-1414.

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