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.