A Lake Anna woman is working to get the word out to residents and marina owners about the risk of electric shock drowning.

The little-known problem can develop when the electrical outlets and wires on boat docks are not properly maintained. Electricity can seep into the water, posing a potentially lethal threat to swimmers.

Ruthie Haden, who lives in the Bienvenue subdivision, became aware of the issue after reading about two women who died on an Alabama lake earlier this year. Since then, she’s been working with her homeowner’s association to upgrade the electrical connections on their common area dock.

“You assume when you step onto your dock that everything’s okay,” she said.

Haden and an officer of the homeowners’ association found the covers had broken off of five outlets on the common area dock. She wasn’t sure what other problems an electrician may find. But she said it’s possible some of the electrical work may not have been inspected in the past 40 years.

With the outlet covers not properly covered, or when wires are not well-insulated, there is greater risk of water getting into the electrical devices, along with dirt and grit present in the water. This can lead to deterioration of wiring and, eventually, an electrical fault.

When that happens, electricity can’t necessarily get back to its source through wiring. If there is anything made of metal located between the wires and nearby water, such as a ladder, the electricity can use the metal as a path into the water itself.

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