Dock, Boats Can Cause Electrocution - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Dock, Boats Can Cause Electrocution

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources wants you to be careful around docks that provide power to recreational boaters and boats themselves. They can release electricity into the water, creating a hazard for anyone swimming or touching the water. And electric shock drowning is becoming more and more common.

Conservation Officer Jeff Harrison told KWQC a 2012 study tested 100 boats and 26 of them were releasing electricity into the water.

He said boats on the Mississippi River are big boats, houseboats with bedrooms and kitchens. And, all of that needs power.

"We all learned as children about hair dryers and bath tubs, you wouldn't step into a bathtub with a hair dryer, think of the boat as a hair dryer," Harrison told KWQC.

There's a current that connects the boat to shore power, but if there's a break in the ground, the current is released through the lowest part of the metal on the boat. The current can travel in every direction about fifty feet.

Some boaters have meters that tell if the boat or marina is wired correctly.

John Duda has been boating for 20 years and said he's felt the shock before.

"Have you ever bitten down on a piece of aluminum foil? No? It gives you kind of a tingle. Yeah, it does, it's a shock. It can be significant though, so you've got to be careful," Duda said.

Harrison said it's not just public docks, but private docks, as well.

Sometimes owners will hook up pumps to water lawns or lights to help them dock at night and if there's a short, there can be electricity in the water.

Experts say if you are in the water and feel an electric current, shout to let others know.

Electricity can shock a person and cause skeletal muscle paralysis, and they cannot move until he or she starts to drown.

If you're on the shore, don't get in. Instead, throw a float to them.

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