Groups urge electrical safety checks on boats

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In observance of National Safe Boating Week, which continues through Friday, Safe Electricity advises, "Prevent deadly shocks. Check your boats and docks."

Last July saw some horrific fatal accidents. A 26-year-old woman was swimming in the Lake of the Ozarks and was electrocuted when she touched an energized dock ladder.

Also at Lake of the Ozarks, a 13-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother received fatal electrical shocks while swimming near a private dock; officials cited an improperly grounded circuit as the cause.

In Tennessee two boys, ages 10 and 11, lost their lives while swimming between houseboats on Cherokee Lake, a result of on-board generator current apparently entering the water through frayed wires beneath the boat.

An important step in preventing such tragedies is to ensure that boat and dock electrical equipment are properly installed and maintained.

"Take the time to inspect all of the electrical systems on or near the water," Safe Electricity director Molly Hall said in a statement. "You wouldn't put your boat in the lake with a leak in it, so make sure all other aspects of the boat and its operations are safe."

Safe Electricity, a public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, reminds swimmers that if they feel a tingle, they should avoid metal ladders and other objects and get out of the water as soon as possible in the best and quickest way they can. When boating or fishing, be aware of your surroundings and potential overhead electrical hazards. Keep at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines.

Click here for a list of recommendations from Safe Electricity, in conjunction with the American Boat and Yacht Council and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/National Electrical Contractors Association.

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