Electric safety tips for boat operators

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Boating safety… Although electricity may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think boater safety, the Grand River Dam Authority wants to remind you of some important electric safety tips specifically for boaters.

Even though the July 4 holiday has come and gone, the Oklahoma summer still offers plenty of opportunities to hit the water for boating and the Grand River Dam Authority’s Grand Lake and Lake Hudson are two of the very best locations to do just that. However, as we near the midpoint of the busy boating season, it is a good time to revisit some important electrical safety tips associated with boating.

This may not be something most boaters typically think about when they head out on the water, but your friends at GRDA want you to stay safe, so we are passing along the following tips from the Electric Safety Foundation International (esfi.org).

  • Be aware of your surroundings and potential electrical hazards by checking the location of nearby power lines before boating. Always maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between your boat and nearby power lines.
  • Have your boat’s electrical system inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician regularly to be sure they meet your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety code and standards. 
  • Have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installed on your boat. They should also be installed on all docks. Test them once a month.
  • Use “UL- Marine Listed” portable GFCIs when using electricity near water. They will decrease the chances of shock or electrocution.
  • Consider having Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCI) installed on boats to protect nearby swimmers from potential electricity leakage into water surrounding your boat.
  • Only use shore or marine power cords, plugs, receptacles, and extension cords that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or ETL SEMKO (ETL). They are specifically designed to keep you safe when using them near water.
  •  Never use cords that are frayed or damaged or that have had the prongs removed or altered.
  • If you question the safety of your boat’s electrical system, immediately turn off the power supply at the electrical panel and do not turn it back on until it has been checked by a qualified electrician.

 GRDA hopes all your trips to the lake result in enjoyable outings for you and your family.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.