With the ever-increasing awareness of electric shock drowning (ESD), many companies have been introducing automated solutions. Though by no means the ultimate answer, these electric shock prevention tools could prove beneficial when put in use.
First a disclaimer. Current and developing electrical standards are only designed to ensure an acceptable margin of safety for potential ESD victims. Electrical codes and the devices described in this article, are not intended to provide fail-safe and full-proof solutions to preventing ESD, nor is this article an endorsement for any particular product. The best solution is to never swim near any electrified dock or floating structure, or around a boat that hasn’t been thoroughly tested against possible volt leakage. The best prevention is education as to how ESD’s occur, and to avoid those situations.
The Shock Alarm is a floating, passive continuously monitoring alarm for use in pools and around docks and boats. While floating in the water, it monitors the presence of electrical current in the water that could potentially lead to an ESD. When it does register dangerous amounts of current in the water it sounds an alert and flashes a warning light. Video can be found here.
Shock Alert was designed to detect dangerous amounts of electricity in water. Similar to the Shock Alarm, the Shock Alert floats passively in water. The display hub on the top center of Shock Alert, emits a flashing light and regular beep when it encounters electrical currents in the water. As the current increases, so does the beeping. Video can be found here.
More versatile than other devices in the same class to help prevent ESD, Shock-Guard also has in mind to protect boats from corrosion caused by exposure to electricity in the water. The device, mounted to the dock, has a sensor lead connected to a wire that is in the water. Once installed, the system monitors the water 24/7, and if it detects electrical current in the water, will sound an audible alarm, and automatically trip the GFCI circuit. There are two models available, one for small docks, and one for commercial docks and marinas. A variety of monitoring accessories are also available. Professional installation is suggested. Video can be found here.
Another product designed for use on a dock, the Dock Lifeguard monitors for stray electrical voltage in water or on a dock. Its radius of detection is 40′ in ideal conditions. The Dock Lifeguard emits visual and audible warnings when electricity is detected while performing continuous monitoring 24/7. Their website also states that the Dock Lifeguard should not be used as a substitute for correct dock wiring. Video can be found here.
These devices, and many more that will no doubt hit the market, may seem like the ultimate tool for ESD prevention. But it’s important to remember, these systems only indicate current water conditions, and cannot predict when water will be electrified. The Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association warns that these devices can create a false sense of safety when used as validation to swim in waters that could be electrified. At any time, water conditions can change. A boat previously unpowered, could power up, and leak current into the water. Shore power to a boat may be turned on, electrifying the dock and water. Any swimmers in the affected waters when this change happens, can quickly become ESD victims. Those that are too close could be electrocuted and drown before a response is possible.
With this in mind, these tools can still indicate the status of water before diving in and swimming and can be added to your ESD prevention arsenal.
As new and different products are introduced, this article will be updated.
Additional related articles:
- NEC 2017 Update
- NEC Codes for 2017 – Stricter Standards for Marinas
- NEC 2017 and the Marina Industry