Electrical Connection Urges Boat Dock Owners to Check Electrical Safety


Mobilizes Electrical Response Team to Fix Hazards Created By Winter Ice/Snow

A two-week long February bitter cold spell in Missouri that encased boats docks in snow and ice is leading the Electrical Connection to mobilize an electrical response team to fix potential electrical hazards on docks. Days of temperatures in the single digits and below zero caused the Lake of the Ozarks to freeze over for the first time in many years. That coupled with fluctuating lake levels and heavy snow and ice caused some docks to sink or partially submerge.  While repairs are underway, the Electrical Connection says even docks that appear stable could have damage to electrical systems creating a shock hazard.  The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)

                “Not all damage to docks is easily seen,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “That’s why every year we urge boat dock owners to have their electrical systems carefully inspected and repaired by a professional, if needed.  This year, it’s even more important to ensure electrical safety has not been compromised by the brutal winter weather.”

                In recent years, electrical safety on boat docks has become a growing issue after several instances of people being electrocuted while swimming near docks with hidden electrical hazards.

                “Docks bring together electricity, metal and water that can create electrical safety issues if not properly inspected every year and maintained,” noted Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis Chapter NECA.  “This is work that requires a thorough understanding of safe electrical systems and infrastructure. It should not be left to unlicensed electrical contractors. All electrical installations should be performed by a licensed electrical contractor.” 

The Electrical Connection has the largest data base of licensed electrical contractors in Missouri at www.electricalconnection.org.  In coordination with the Electrical Connection, a coalition of Mid-Missouri and Eastern Missouri electrical contractors have established services to assist dock owners with electrical repairs.  Those contractors and their phone numbers include:

·         Stokes Electric – 573-636-2167·         Jeffries Electric — 573-676-5100
·         Kaiser Electric — 573-556-6188·         Meyer Electric — 573-893-2335
·         Morris Electric — 573-690-3930·         Coastal Electric — 573-875-2200
·         Rehagen Electric — 573-893-3155·         Hanenkamp Electric – 314-423-2666
·         Marchi Electric – 636-305-0032·         Diversified Electrical — 636-936-0138
·         Gratza Electric – 314-280-5757·         Vision Electric – 636-916-0900

Electrical Connection Boat Dock Safety Tips

Meanwhile, the Electrical Connection has updated its annual safety tips because of the potential for more widespread damage to boat dock electrical systems in Missouri caused by the fierce winter weather:

·         Disconnect the power source to the dock before any inspection. You don’t want to touch any metal or conductive components that may be energized. Know that disconnect switches, which should be located at the entrance to a dock, are not rated as weatherproof so they can be subject corrosive damage. The switch enclosure should be rated for the outdoor environment and that may mitigate damage.  A visual inspection inside the disconnect enclosure by a licensed electrician should indicate if water has entered and if corrosion exists.

·         A Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) should be on all dock receptacles and tested once a month or per the manufacturer’s specifications.  A GFCI measures the current in a circuit. An imbalance of that current, such as a discharge into the water, will trip the GFCI cutting off power.  Do not attempt to override any tripped GFCIs – let it do its job.  If a GFCI will not re-set, it may need to be replaced or there may be a bigger issue that a licensed electrical contractor will need to further evaluate.

  • Weather-related events like ice or lake fluctuations can cause bonding jumpers to break, particularly since stranded wire may be used. The connections can also become loose due to expansion and contraction causing excessive stress or they may become corroded.  Secure bonding jumpers are essential to connect all metal parts to a ground rod on the shore.  They ensure any part of the metal dock that becomes energized because of electrical malfunction will trip the GFCI or the circuit breaker.  Check for any damage to the dock’s ground rod connection.

·         Look for additional signs of corroded, cracked or stressed connector issues that compromise the raceway or junction boxes. Check that all electrical supports remain intact securely. 

  • Never use an extension cord on a dock.
  • 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. 

While boat dock owners can tap Electrical Connection contractors for expertise and service on boat dock electrical safety at www.electricalconnection.org, they can also engage other Mid-Missouri licensed and skilled electrical contractors at IBEW Local 257.

The Electrical Connection partnership provides safe and reliable commercial, industrial and residential electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. It is an important resource for business and civic leadership for new technology, including disruptive technologies, advancing electrical and communication infrastructure.  Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.

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