Stray Electric Current Hazards

Apr 10, 2024 | commercial marine insurance, marina, safety | 0 comments

Lethal stray electric current is a common risk that marina operators, boat builders, and yacht clubs need to take steps to prevent. This insidious threat can quickly pose a risk at marinas, which could lead to electric shock drowning. Aside from fatalities or bodily injury, some electrical incidents can cause costly damage to boats and yachts. So, what should a vigilant marina, club, or other waterfront business look out for to mitigate risk and liability?

First, it’s important to understand that water has two dangerous current types. These are:

  • Stray Direct Current (DC) can quickly damage boats, particularly those with aluminum or metal hull fittings.
  • Stray Alternating Current (AC) – emitting potentially fatal electrical impulses into the water. If a person happens to encounter stray AC while in the water, even low levels can paralyze muscles and result in injury or even death by drowning.

Higher levels could electrocute anyone immersed in the electrified water. Unfortunately, victims of electric shock drowning are often children or teens swimming nearby.

Marine business owners should know the two most common sources of electric current entering the water: electrical wiring from the shore power system or the connection between a boat and the onshore power supply. Here are some ways to minimize the risk of stray electric currents:

  • Ensure all electrical equipment is installed properly and meets required federal and local safety standards. – Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for safety.
  • Review the power system for any defects or issues.
  • Make repairs and maintenance a priority. – All boats or yachts at the marina must meet the fire protection standard.
  • Swimming should be banned at or near the marine facilities or operations.
  • Forbid diving operations without approval and use the appropriate safety precautions throughout the dive.

We have a Stray Electric Current Safety Checklist for Marinas and Yacht Clubs available upon request. You can refer to this tip sheet for more information about stray electric currents and preventative measures to put in place. If you want to minimize your exposure to risk onshore or land, contact the marine business insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to discuss your needs. We offer marine industry expertise, broad coverage offerings, and tailored solutions.

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