Experts warns public of electric shock danger in water

Electric shock possible threat to lake swimmers

WSFA/NBC - A trip to the lake can be a lot of fun but there are dangers involved.

Parents are always told to keep an eye on their children when they are in water but one of the biggest threats they face can't be seen. In the blink of an eye, a dip in the water this summer can turn deadly. It can happen when swimmers get an electric shock from devices in the water.

Neil Harrington is with a volunteer fire rescue team and said, "Stray voltage in the water can't be seen. You can't feel it so we have to have some way to test for it."

In an effort to help prevent electric shock drowning, Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue has purchased four additional detectors. It is offering its services to the residents of the lake.

"In some of the docks that I have checked there have been some stray voltage coming into the water typically off of the boat lifts and it has to do with how the docks, the power on the dock is grounded," said Harrington.

Harrington says these cases only required minor fixes. Karl Martin with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says many of the docks around the lake were wired more than 50-years-ago.

Martin says they need to be updated to meet code.

"Have someone from a licensed firm come and look at the wiring scheme around their docks and an electrical current. There are a lot of outlets that are buried that go from a residence to the water or near the water," said Martin.

SML Volunteer Fire Rescue crews are encouraging lake residents to purchase an electrical detector and keep metal boat lifts out of the water. Experts say even a low level of electric current in the water can be extremely hazardous or fatal to a swimmer.

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