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How To Prevent Electric Shock Drowning

Each year, 3,800 people die from drowning.

Electric shock drowning occurs when an electric current escapes boats, docks and lights near marinas, shocking nearby swimmers. There are no visible signs of current seeping into water, which makes this a hidden danger. The electric shock paralyzes swimmers, making them unable to swim to safety.

Your Missouri electric cooperatives shares important electrical safety tips for:


  • Never swim near a boat or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of electric shock.
  • If you feel any tingling sensations while in the water, tell someone and swim back in the direction from which you came. Immediately report it to the dock or marina owner.

Boat Owners

  • Ensure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. GFCIs and ELCIs should be tested monthly. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.
  • Use portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL- Marine Listed” when using electricity near water.
  • Regularly have your boat’s electrical system inspected by a certified marine electrician. Ensure it meets your local and state NEC, NFPA and ABYC safety codes.


  • Turn power off
  • Throw a life ring
  • Call 911

DO NOT enter the water. You could become a victim, too.

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