Breaking News
More () »

Officials issue warning about electric shock drowning

As summer approaches, local officials are warning of the danger of electric shock drowning, also known as ESD.
File photo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As summer approaches, local officials are warning of the danger of electric shock drowning, also known as ESD.

Huntersville Fire posted on Facebook this week to make people aware of the so-called “silent killer.”

If you plan on swimming in a pool or lake this summer, it's a warning you need to hear. Two weeks ago, two women were found dead in a Tuscaloosa, Alabama lake. As of Tuesday, officials believe they died because the dock had faulty wires that sent an electric current into the water. 

The same tragedy also struck in North Carolina last summer. 

"It could have been anybody and it still could be," said Michelle Rosoff, whose daughter Rachel died from ESD. 

The 17-year-old lifeguard drowned in a Raleigh public pool last September after a pump motor failed, causing the water to be electrified.

Michelle has now filed two lawsuits against electric companies who served that Raleigh pool and is pushing for a new bill to be passed that would require annual electric inspections of every pool in North Carolina.

"It should never, ever happen again,” Rosoff said. "It's not like this pool was an isolated pool that didn't have an inspection. It is across the board; pools are not having inspections."

“I think it would really freak people out if they realized how dangerous that could be,” Joe Biron with Hatteras pools said.

Biron has been building pools for decades and says even standard lights can be a hazard.

“A 120-volt light in a pool to me is like playing with a toaster in the pool,” he said.

And it’s not just pools. Fifteen-year-old Carmen Johnson also died from ESD last summer in an Alabama lake, after a current from dock wiring electrified the water.

Her father Jimmy couldn’t save her.

“As I I dove in I could feel what was going on,” Jimmy Johnson recalled. “I could feel the electric current all throughout my body.”

To avoid electric water shock:

  • Check the wiring around your pool or dock
  • Use a plastic ladder, not a metal one
  • Avoid swimming close to marinas, docks, and boatyards
  • And, as the saying goes, “If you feel a shock, swim away from the dock.”

Right now in North Carolina, public pools are not required to have circuit protectors to prevent this type of tragedy. This new house bill, if passed, would make them mandatory.

Before You Leave, Check This Out