Lake goers warned about dangers of electric shock drowning

LAKE NORMAN, N.C. — The summer's hot temperatures have many people jumping into pools, lakes and rivers, but most don’t know the dangers of electric shock drowning.

North Carolina Wildlife officer Sampson Parker warns people who live on the lake, own boats or use their friends’ boats about the danger.

Electric shock drownings can happen when an electrical current leaks into the water from an open wire or break in a circuit coming off a dock, marina or boat.

"This could happen anywhere, on any freshwater lake, and Lake Norman, for sure,” Parker said. “Lake Norman's got a lot of docks, a lot of marinas. Most of the time where this occurs (it) is at a marina or at personal docks.”

Last week, 11-year-old Kayla Matos died after being electrocuted in a backyard lagoon in New Jersey.

A day earlier, in Ohio, a 19-year-old was electrocuted and drowned trying to save his dad and dog who were both being shocked by an undetected electrical current.

(What to know: Electric shock drowning)

“Unfortunately, it's a risk that you can't see, you can't smell,” Parker said. “Once it enters the water, the person becomes incapacitated and can't move, can't use your muscles, can't swim.”

Parker said most people aren't aware of the dangers, but he has some safety tips.

Parker said private dock owners should have a licensed electrician check their docks out, and boat owners should have a marine electrician fix any problems.

“If you jump into the water and you start to feel a tingly feeling, start to feel the electricity, swim away from the dock. That's the biggest safety tip possible,” Parker said.

Boater Michael Goodman said he comes to the lake almost every weekend during the summer, but electric shock drowning has never crossed his mind.

“I hadn't heard about it at all. You hear about drownings for other reasons,” Goodman said. “It wasn't something that ever crossed my mind or I ever heard of. I'll definitely look into it further.”

One of the reasons you see "no swim" signs at public docks and marinas is to prevent electric shock drowning.

Parker said swimming 150 feet away from a dock is usually a safe distance.