When two Alabama teenagers jumped off a boat dock into a lake after a day of picnicking and enjoying the warm weather, one of them did not make it out alive.
Carmen Johnson, 15, of Hartselle, never resurfaced. Her body was lifted out of the water an hour after she drowned in the waters of Smith Lake in Winston County on April 16, reports Dayton Daily News.
It’s believed a 120-volt alternating current that was “leaking” into the water electrocuted Johnson and caused her to drown -- often referred to as electric shock drowning. The death of the Priceville High School cheerleader has put the spotlight on the dangers of swimming near docks with boats attached to them, notes Mad World News.
ESD happens when a swimmer comes into contact with an electrical alternating current. Although it only lasts a moment, it causes skeletal muscular paralysis and incapacitates the swimmer, leading to drowning.
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Incidents of the deadly phenomenon have been on the rise as boats and docks are now equipped with more electrical devices. If the devices aren’t installed properly or maintained, they can leak electric current into the water. The leaks can come from worn wires, inadequately wired systems or an AC grounding unit that is damaged.
ESD is more dangerous in bodies of fresh water compared to salt water because fresh water is not a good conductor. The AC then looks for a better vessel -- such as a human body -- for conductance. It only takes a small amount of electricity to cause death. 15 milliamps can cause paralysis, 100 milliamps – about a third of the amount needed to light a 40-watt light bulb – can kill a human in seconds.
What’s worse, here are no marine rules or regulations that can prevent this. Although you cannot see if the water is electrified, Dayton Daily News recommends swimmers to swim 100 yards away from any fresh water marina or boatyard. If you own a boat, test to make sure it’s not leaking electricity -- you can buy a clamp meter to test it yourself. Always hire a qualified electrician to work on your boat. Never use household extension cords for powering a docked boat.