Updated, 4:40 p.m. by Kermit Miller: It's a problem nationwide, but it can be prevented.That was the general message this morning (7/31) at a seminar on electric-shock drowning and boat dock safety.Hosted by Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, the program focused on preventing shocks at their source and on helping victims when prevention doesn't work. The electric-shock drowning deaths of two Ashland children on the Fourth of July focused the spotlight on dock safety at the lake. Marica Whitter, with Lake Regional Health System, said, "There are over 25,000 docks at the lLake of the Ozarks." And no one can say just how many are safe.
That's is why 90 people signed up for this safety seminar, where one fire marshal spent a large amount of time on the critical need for ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), as well as the devices people can buy to monitor them.Ed Nicholson, Osage Beach Fire Marshal, said, "We need to make sure we test those and check 'em. Because there is a rate of failure on those."A major concern is that GFCIs weren't mandatory until 2006, and older docks were grandfathered in.Stacey Mosher, with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said, "If you do some research on this, (electric-shock drowning) has been happening for years."But the number of incidents around the country is up this year. Some wonder if that increase is connected to the drought. "That's one of the theories, that because there's not as much water in the ground to conduct the electricity back to the ground water, that's one of the reasons why we're having such a high incidence," Whitter said. On the other hand, plenty of docks have been wired by do-it-yourselfer's, and that brought pleas to rely on experts. So what advice do the safety experts have for people who might have to deal with an electric-shock drowning situation?First, if you're a swimming and feel an electric "tingle" and can still swim, don't swim towards any dock. It could be the source of the problem, and touching it could be fatal. Instead, swim away to an opposite shore. Second, while in the water, paddle away from the dock in a vertical posture. You'll be more of a direct conduit for the electric current if you're stretched out.If you're on shore and hear calls for help, resist the urge to jump into the water. Many victims start out as would-be rescuers. Instead, use a non-metal grappling device, or toss a rope or life preserver to the victim and move quickly to kill the power. Seconds may make the difference between life and death. Original by Mike DeFranco: Lake Regional Hospital will be hosting an informational forum this morning on dock safety, and specifically that of power system safety on docks. In the wake of the death of two children and one woman at Lake of the Ozarks this past month, they will be addressing issues with electrical wiring that they're seen on the lake area docks. The forum will be held at the lake regional third-floor conference rooms, and officials from the water patrol will be on hand as well.Also, in response to the shock-related deaths at the lake, one electrical wiring company is providing free dock inspections to anyone who wants them. The forum begins at 10 a..m. On Tuesday morning at the third-floor conference room at Lake Regional, and you can schedule a free dock inspection you can call Mr. Rewire at 877-297-7498.