Prevent Deadly Shocks—Check Your Boats and Docks

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power urges boat and dock owners to: “Prevent deadly shocks. Check your boats and docks.” Have electrical systems checked and repaired to help prevent water electrocution accidents. Exposure to the elements and the motion of water can degrade the condition of electrical components allowing electricity to leak into the water or energize surrounding metal.

Each year, people are killed by electrical shock while in the water near docks or boats plugged into shore power. Proper maintenance and safety equipment are vital in helping to prevent these tragedies.

Our professional safety partner’s Safe Electricity in conjunction with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/National Electrical Contractors Association recommend:

  • Docks should have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers on the circuits feeding electricity to the dock.
  • The metal frame of docks should be bonded to connect all metal parts to the alternating current (AC) safety ground at the power source. That will ensure any part of the metal dock that becomes energized because of electrical malfunction will trip the circuit breaker.
  • Neighboring docks can also present a shock hazard. Ensure your neighbor’s dockside electrical system complies with the National Electrical Code and has been inspected.
  • All electrical installations should be performed by a professional electrical contractor familiar with marine codes and standards.

When it comes to your boat’s electrical system, particularly those with AC systems, keep in mind:

  • Boats with AC systems should have isolation transformers or equipment leakage circuit interrupter (ELCI) protection, comply with ABYC standards, and should be serviced by an ABYC Certified® Technician.
  • There are some big differences between your house and your boat. Household wire is not suitable for use on boats as houses are motionless and generally dry. Even marine-rated wire that is not supported along its length will break with constant motion stress.
  • Do NOT use wire nuts or splice connectors! Wire nuts are for solid conductor wire, which should never be on a boat, and splice connectors cut wire strands.
  • Fuses are rated to protect the wire, not the appliance. If a fuse blows continuously, it should NOT be replaced with a larger one just to keep it from blowing again—something else is wrong.
  • Have your boat’s electrical system checked at least once a year. Boats should also be checked when something is added to or removed from their systems.

Learn more at and


Get the Most Cooling for Your Dollar

Hot temperatures are hard on people, pocketbooks, and our electrical systems. Increased demand for electricity during summer months strains a home’s electrical system, increasing the likelihood of an electric shock or fire. This high demand for electricity also makes it more expensive in summer months.

By preparing your home, you can save money, stay comfortable, and decrease demands on the electrical system. The Energy Education Council provides the following tips to save money on cooling costs:

  • Use curtains and blinds to keep the sun out on hot days.
  • Use ceiling fans. They circulate air and take heat from the body’s surface to create a cooling effect.
  • Keep cool air in and hot air out. Avoid unnecessary trips out the door, and do not leave the door open.
  • A programmable thermostat allows you to change your home’s temperature based on your daily patterns. The thermostat can allow temperatures to go higher while you are away and to then cool off when you are back in the home.
  • Prepare your air conditioner for the hard work it will do over the summer months. Turn off power to the air conditioner before you work on it. Clean or replace filters. Outside, clear leaves and other debris away from the condensing unit. Hose off any accumulated dirt.
  • Shade your home by installing awnings over windows in direct sunlight.
  • Make sure your home has the insulation it needs. has information about the best insulation to use in different geographic areas.
  • Ventilation is one of the most efficient ways to keep a building cool. In breezy, dry climates ventilation can eliminate the need for an air conditioner all together. For the many who need air conditioning to cool their homes, attic vents and fans can help reduce energy costs.
  • If you are building a new home or replacing your air conditioner, there are options to maximize efficiency. For starters, look for the Energy Star label for air conditioners that have met energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For those living in arid climates, consider evaporative or swamp coolers, which release moisture into the air for a cooling effect. These coolers work at a fraction of the cost of air conditioners. Also, absorption cooling is essentially an air conditioner that is not run by electricity. Instead, it uses heat from sources such as natural gas or the sun for operation.

For more information on energy safety and efficiency, visit our friends at the EnergyEdCouncil.orgSafe Electricity & Grand Haven Board of Light & Power

Outdoor Safety during a Thunderstorm

Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from the area in which it is raining and you do not have to see clouds. This means that if you can hear thunder, you’re within striking distance, and it is time to take safe shelter. When the storm is over, wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike you see before going back outside.

If caught outdoors during a thunderstorm and unable to take shelter in an enclosed building, take the following precautions:

  • Try to take shelter in a vehicle with a solid metal roof. Close the windows, and avoid contact with electrical conducting paths—such as the steering wheel, ignition, gear shifter, or radio.
  • Do not seek shelter under tall, solitary trees; canopies; small picnic or rain shelters; or in any open-frame vehicles such as jeeps, convertibles, golf carts, tractors, or mowers.
  • Avoid water, high ground, or open spaces.
  • Do not stand near power, light, or flag poles; machinery; fences; gates; metal bleachers; or even other people. If you are in a group, spread out so that you are at least 20 feet apart.
  • If your skin tingles or your hair stands on end, lightning may be about to strike. Squat down low to the ground with your head between your knees making yourself the smallest target possible.

If a person is struck by lightning, call 911 and care for the victim immediately. You are not in danger of being electrocuted by the victim.

More information on lightning safety can be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at Additional information on storm safety can be found on our safety partner’s site at