Marine News from the Great Lakes

Is Your Marina Protected From Stray Electrical Currents?

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Summer is around the corner, and so is boating season. We all want to get out there and enjoy the warm weather on the water. There are memories to be made, and great times to be had – which is why it is so important to remember to be safe on the water.

Many of us know plenty about boater safety, from years of experience and training, to keep not only ourselves safe, but also our family and loved ones. But before we even start our adventure for the day, it’s always important to remember that the gateway to the water starts at the marina. And by extension, that’s also where our safety preparedness and awareness should start. The marina is a location where there are a lot of opportunities for accidents, but thanks to responsible owners and management, a lot of the risks are mitigated and managed.

Over the last decade, there has been more and more talk about ground fault protection at marinas – to protect against electric shock drowning. Now, it is understood widely that nobody should attempt to swim at a marina – for various reasons. One of the most important of them is due to the possibility of stray electric currents in the water, which can render adults, children, or even animals motion limited or with stiffened or paralyzed muscles. This is even more of a concern in freshwater, rather than saltwater, as freshwater is not as conductive - a body in the water is the path of least resistance!

Luckily there is an easy safeguard, introduced by the National Electric Code: it specifies Ground Fault Protection on the circuit breakers protecting the marina, as a solution! With this, depending on the breakers selected, any stray current in the water over an unacceptable limit will immediately shut off power, keeping the water safe. Eaton Corporation is a leader in breaker technology and Power Pedestal technology, and has solutions for every marina to protect all of its guests.

So this summer, get out there, enjoy yourself, and double check that your local marina has ground fault protected pedestals and/or electrical infrastructure. It’s as easy as a simple question to the management. That way, you can relax and be assured if anyone falls in the water, the worst they can expect is just some wet clothes and a little teasing.

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This article first appeared in the Launch Issue (May/Jun) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Accessories, Decorative, Safety

Summer 2020

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