German Creek Marina in Bean Station, Tennessee, where electrical current leakage in the water killed two boys in 2012.
It might not be self evident, but marinas and boatyards can be very dangerous places to swim—but not just because of the boats.
Electric shock drowning, known as ESD, has gained national attention in recent years due to several high-profile incidents, including deaths, involving mostly children and young adults. As writer Ashley Smith details in the feature story “Troubled Waters,” in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal, ESD can occur when a leak in the marina’s electrical system electrifies the surrounding water. If a swimmer comes to close to that leak, the resulting electrocution can be fatal in and of itself, or it can paralyze the swimmer’s muscles and cause them to drown.
NFPA 303, Standard for Marinas and Boatyards, applies to facilities that house and service motor craft. The committee that oversees NFPA 303 has made some changes in the 2016 edition of the code to tighten the requirements for ground fault protection.