Lake Residents Attend Dock Safety Forum

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OSAGE BEACH - Residents of the Lake of the Ozarks area attended a dock safety presentation Tuesday morning, held at Lake Regional Hospital. Roughly 90 people showed up.

Three speakers discussed electrical safety and precautions, first aid tips for electrical and water-related injuries and general water safety. Many of the presentation attendees had detailed questions for the presenters and expressed general concern for their own and their neighbors' docks.

The Osage Beach Fire Protection District Fire Marshall, Ed Nicholson, said having a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is required for newer docks.  The GFCI outlets have a safety feature causing the electricity to shut off when it comes in contact with water.  These are common in all homes and required to be in rooms that use water, like kitchens and bathrooms. 

After attending the talk, dock owner George Buford said he had an appointment with an electrician for next week to switch all his outlets over to the GFCI type.  He said after how much attention dock safety has been getting, it's almost scary to go in the water without having everything checked out.  He also said he was going to look into taking one of the CPR classes offered at the hospital.  The next one is August 9 and costs $25.

Assistant manager of an Ace Hardware store, Randy Supulver, said the sales of GFCI outlets and GFCI outlet testers have tripled since the fatal electric shock incidents surround the 4th of July.

Marcia Whitter, the trauma coordinator at the hospital and organizer of the presentation, offered advice on the safest way to swim away from an electrical current.  She said it's best to stay as upright as possible and tread water backwards away from the origin of the electricity.  Whitter said if the body is extended fully there's more of a chance of getting an electric shock because the entire body works as an electrical conductor. 

They also described the different feelings a swimmer might experience if there is an electrical current running through the water.

Current in milliamps Physical Symptoms
1-3 Tingling sensation
10-20 Loss of voluntary muscle control
18-22 Paralysis of diaphragm/chest muscles
50-65 Ventricular Fibrillation
100+ Death can occur in a few seconds

Heart muscle stops immediately

These are very low currents of electricity causing this damage. It generally takes about 500 milliamps to power a 60 watt light bulb.