SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- Three swimmers recently killed at the Lake of the Ozarks has us all talking more about how to prevent electrocutions in the water. Some local experts have advice to ensure more safety around boat docks.
"It takes surprisingly little power to do what you need to do here," says Nathan Jones of Power Source Solar. His company installed the solar energy system on a public Corp of Engineers dock at Table Rock Lake and many other docks. "They're running the lifts here. There's lighting on the dock. There are some security cameras and motion sensor devices here," Jones says.
"We want to do everything in our power to make sure whatever we're permitting out there on Table Rock Lake- it is safe," says Greg Oller of the Corps of Engineers at Table Rock Lake.
Jones says the dock's self-contained solar systeim is a big safety benefit. "Electricity returns to source. That the guiding principle. Our source is in mid-air," says Jones.
All wires in the solar system are routed to always send electricity back to its source, on the dock, instead of traveling through the water to reach a power grid on shore.
"We're a much better conductor than the fresh water that we find ourselves swimming in, and so when we contact that electric field, we've become the best pathway for that electricity," Jones says. It was electricity traveling through the water that killed three young people this month at Lake of the Ozarks.
"At least, finally, people are considering electric shock as a potential concern, and we're talking about it, when before, before two weeks ago, this area just never talked about it," says Marine Technician Michael Hunter.
Hunter says there is a way to ensure safety for docks that do get power from the shore. "I've got to have this fault path, the green wire, the what-if wire," says Hunter. It's the wire that makes a GFI outlet in your bathroom trip if there's a problem. He says new docks are required to have a GFI at the shore, but he recommends them at the slip too. "Even though the dock may be perfect, if I've got an error on the boat, I can still trip the breaker because of a boat issue," says Hunter.
Above all, if you see a potential problem or simply want a dock check-up, leave it to the experts. "Call them. Get them out there. It's better to be safe than sorry," says Oller.