Editorial: Shocking revelation

Published: Apr. 27, 2017 at 3:09 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2017 at 5:23 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is an editorial from WBRC FOX6 News General Manager Collin Gaston, which first aired on Thursday, April 27, 2017:

A year ago, 15-year-old Carmen Johnson lost her life due to electric shock drowning at her family's home on Smith Lake. Earlier this month, Shelly Darling and Elizabeth Whipple died of suspected electric shock drowning at Lake Tuscaloosa. I've got to be honest, before hearing about these most recent tragedies I had no idea what electric shock drowning was or how it happens. Believe you me, I do now.

What I've learned is that docks that have power for things like boat lifts, lights, or general needs, if not maintained properly or installed correctly can inadvertently transfer electricity into the water and into unsuspecting swimmers.

Electric shock drowning is called the "silent killer" because it leaves no marks, and because of this, there is high likelihood the determination of cause of actual drownings due to electric shock are under or misreported leaving others to unknowingly put themselves at risk.

So, I want to share some safety tips that everyone should be aware of and undertake as the summer season is upon us and lake visits will increase:

  • Use a plastic ladder, rather than a metal one, so it won’t help 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 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.

A few minutes checking and a few dollars fixing could save a life.

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P.O. Box 6
Birmingham, Alabama 35201

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