Pennsylvania Senators Propose Legislation to Prevent Electric Shock Drowning

Harrisburg, PennsylvaniaCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — On Tuesday, State Senators Jay Costa and Camera Bartolotta introduced a co-sponsorship memo for new legislation aimed at preventing Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) in Pennsylvania. This effort responds to the growing concern over ESD incidents, which involve low-level AC currents causing paralysis in swimmers, often leading to drowning.

Understanding Electric Shock Drowning

Electric Shock Drowning refers to incidents where an electric current passes through water and affects a swimmer’s muscles, immobilizing them and preventing escape. This typically happens in fresh water near boat docks and marinas, where electrical systems can malfunction or be improperly installed. The shock is often strong enough to paralyze the victim, making it impossible to swim to safety.

Proposed Safety Measures

The proposed legislation would introduce several safety requirements for boat docks and marina operations:

  1. Electrical Protections: All facilities must have appropriate main overcurrent protective devices or ground fault protection. These devices help prevent electrical currents from leaking into the water.
  2. Regular Inspections: An initial electrical inspection would be required, followed by inspections every five years to ensure ongoing safety compliance.
  3. Safety Signage: Permanent signs would need to be installed, notifying the public of potential electric shock hazards around boats, docks, and marinas.
Legislative Support

Senators Costa and Bartolotta emphasized the importance of the proposed measures in preventing tragic accidents.

“I’m so glad to be opening a conversation around how we can prevent the tragedy of Electric Shock Drowning and ensure that everyone is safe in our waters,” said Senator Costa. “This bill will go a long way in ensuring that a beloved pastime does not end in a preventable catastrophe. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to raise this issue and deliver solutions to Pennsylvania’s boat docks and marinas.”

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Senator Bartolotta underscored the emotional toll of preventable drownings, particularly involving children. “While we never want to lose a child, it becomes especially tragic when the loss was preventable,” she said. “As the typical ESD victim is a child swimming in or around a marina or dock where electricity is present, our legislation could prevent the loss of young lives.”

Why This Matters
  1. Public Safety: Implementing these safety measures will reduce the risk of ESD incidents, making aquatic activities safer for everyone.
  2. Preventable Tragedies: By addressing the root causes of ESD, the legislation aims to eliminate scenarios where electrical malfunctions lead to drownings, particularly among children.
  3. Awareness and Education: The requirement for permanent safety signage will educate the public about the risks of ESD, promoting greater vigilance and caution near water.
Enhancing Water Safety

If passed, the legislation would set a precedent for other states dealing with similar issues. As more marinas and boat docks comply with the new safety standards, the risk of ESD incidents could decrease nationwide. Additionally, increased awareness and periodic inspections ensure that facilities remain vigilant about water safety.

The introduction of this legislation marks a significant step towards reducing the risks associated with Electric Shock Drowning. By mandating electrical protections, regular inspections, and clear safety signage, Senators Costa and Bartolotta aim to make Pennsylvania’s waters safer for all. As discussions continue in the House and Senate, the focus remains on preventing future tragedies and safeguarding one of the state’s cherished pastimes.

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