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American Boat & Yacht Council Steps Up Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Efforts

The safety messages include proper maintenance of a boat’s electrical system and safe actions in the water.

The American Boat & Yacht Council’s Foundation (ABYC) is partnering with the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity “Teach Learn Care TLC” campaign to help prevent electric shock drowning (ESD). The safety messages include proper maintenance of a boat’s electrical system and safe actions in the water.

Thanks to a grant recently awarded by the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Protection Research Foundation and support from the ABYC Foundation, an expert investigation for solutions on the dockside mitigation of this hazard is underway. The outreach is especially timely with the approach of National Safe Boating Week and subsequent Memorial Day holiday when more people are on and around boats.

“We are very impressed with the Energy Education Council and their outreach efforts on this and other electrical safety issues,” said John Adey, ABYC president. “The additional effort by ABYC’s Foundation along with the Fire Protection Research Foundation will produce tangible results that will make an impact.”

“We’re grateful to ABYC for their commitment to water recreation/electrical safety,” said Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council. “Arming people with knowledge will help prevent tragedies and save lives.”

ABYC has been aware of and taken steps to mitigate ESD incidents since 1999. In 2008, the United States Coast Guard sponsored grants to ensure ABYC’s electrical document “E-11 AC & DC Electrical Systems On-Board Boats – 2008” included an “Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter” device. This “interrupter” is similar in function to ground-fault outlets installed in homes. It responds to a potential fault by tripping the main circuit breaker and cutting power to the boat.

“ABYC has enhanced our standards requiring safety equipment on used boats that have alternating current (AC) electrical systems that protects against ESD,” said Adey.

Boats with AC Shore Power should have isolation transformers or equipment leakage circuit interrupter (ELCI) protection, to comply with American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards, and should be serviced by an ABYC Certified Tech.

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