Electrocutions by drowning in a lake or pool are considered by some to be “freak accidents.” The reality is that they happen a lot more often than you might think, and are often the result of someone’s negligence.
Potential for Electrocution in NC Lakes, Rivers, Pools
Being electrocuted while swimming in a lake, river, or pool is not something you might consider when taking a refreshing dip. But it happens. A 17-year-old Raleigh lifeguard was electrocuted and drowned in 2017 when she tested the water at a public pool where she worked. Negligence and “shoddy workmanship” was alleged to be the reason the water became charged, and the parents have filed a lawsuit.
How Does Drowning by Electrocution Occur?
When you are swimming in water that becomes charged, your body seizes up and you are unable to move or swim away. One of the reasons you see "No Swimming" signs at public docks and marinas is to prevent electrocution by keeping swimmers at least 150 feet away from the dock, which authorities claim is usually a safe distance.
If you own a dock on Lake Norman, Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, or on any NC waterway, or if you run electricity to any body of water, make sure a licensed electrician checks the wiring at least every two years. Incidentally electric shock can occur in any body of water, however, experts say fresh is more of a conductor than salt water.
Safety Tips to Help Deter Electrocutions in NC Lakes
- Use a plastic ladder, rather than a metal one, so it won’t help to facilitate transfer electricity into the water
- If you start to feel a tingle in the water, swim away from the dock, which is where most electrical issues occur
- Check all of the wiring around your dock, including your ground fault circuit breaker.
- Purchase a Dock Lifeguard, a device that detects electricity on your dock and in the water around your dock.
Electrocutions Can Happen Near Boats
Boats can have faulty wiring too, which can charge the water around it. Two boys were electrocuted in a large lake while swimming between houseboats. It was determined that the wiring was faulty on one of the houseboats and it charged the water, killing one boy and severely injuring the other.
If you are a boat owner, you should have a marine electrician periodically check your boat’s wiring and fix any problems.
Electrocution Accidents, Injuries, Deaths
Electrocution is generally classified as death by electric shock. Yet, it also encompasses a wide range of injuries from contact with electricity. Here are the four primary types of electrocution injuries, as defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
- Cardiac arrest
- Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction
- Thermal burns from contact with an electrical source
- Falling or other similar injuries associated from an electrical shock
If a person is electrocuted in the water and survives, they could potentially suffer long-term effects, including:
- Amnesia or short-term memory loss
- Mood swings
- Mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, aggression, and schizophrenia
Drowning by Electrocution Liability
Drownings by electrocution are almost always a result of negligence, including faulty equipment and poor maintenance, human error, poor workmanship. Potentially liable parties may include:
- Property owners
- Power companies
- Equipment and boat operators
- Contractors or operators responsible for repairs and past maintenance
North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation
If your loved one drowned by electrocution or was injured by an electrical shock of any kind, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You could be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.