Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association

Learn about equipment leakage circuit interrupters (ELCI)

Electric Shock Drowning: Is drowning caused by swimmer exposure to electrical current in the water. Electricity typically enters the water through faulty electrical equipment or wiring on docks that have boats connected to shore power.

Ground Fault: A ground fault occurs when electricity takes an unplanned path to ground.

If the grounding conductor aboard a boat connected to shore power is broken and a ground fault occurs, current may find its way onto the prop and from there will return through the water to the shoreside grounding electrode. If a person is in the energized water, they can become paralyzed and drown.

  1. The boat is connected to shore power and the electrical system is operating correctly.

2. A ground fault has occurred in the microwave, but the grounding conductor is intact and only a small amount of current has found its way into the water from the boat propeller. A person in the water may feel only a tingling sensation.

3. The grounding conductor is broken and now the water carries all of the fault current. A person in the water may be paralyzed and drown.

Preventing Electric Shock Drowning

  1. Don't Swim! Those performing inspection of the underwater portions of docks with AC electrical are encouraged to find alternative methods to entering the water. These may include underwater drones, or a camera/lights mounted on a pole.
  2. Unplug the boat! don't leave the boat connected to shore power if you plan to enter the water.


Good indications that entering the water is a bad idea! This is a floating home community in Sausalito, California: