Electric Shock Drowning (ESD)

  • Did you know that you are at risk by entering the water near a boat or dock powered by electricity? ESD can be deadly and is the result of a person coming into contact with an electrical current in the water. Stray voltage can come from boats or docks with faulty wiring, frayed cords and devices not approved as shore- or marine-rated. It can cause complete loss of muscle control, the inability to move and, ultimately, lead to drowning.

    Learn how to protect you and your family from ESD.


Need-to-know Information

Important Information
What can boaters do?

ESD is preventable and boaters are a large part of the solution. The following tips will help alleviate electrical currents entering the water:

  • Have a qualified marine electrician:
    • Install an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) on your boat or use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in the shore power cord.
    • Perform an annual inspection of your boat’s electrical system.
  • Test GFCI and ELCI protection as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use power cords that are in good condition and properly rated. Do not use common household extension cords.
What can you do to prevent ESD?

ESD is invisible, odorless and silent. Never enter the water when near boats or docks powered with electricity. The following tips are ways that you can help prevent ESD:

  • Do not enter water near a marina or dock.
  • Turn off the shore power connection and/or disconnect power cord from pedestal.
  • If you feel a tingling sensation, get out of the water and report it to staff.
  • Notify the harbormaster of any electrical safety hazards so they can be fixed.
  • Pets are also impacted by ESD. Do not allow your pet to enter the water.
What to do if you think someone has been shocked?
  • Throw in a life ring or other floatation device.
  • Never enter the water. You could become a victim too!
  • Turn off the shore power connection and disconnect power cord from pedestal.
  • Call for help. Use 911 or VHF Channel 16 (as appropriate).


  • electric shock drowning sign

    Sign placement in prominent location

  • Electric Shock Drowning Warning Sign

    Decal placement on pedestal doors


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