What Is ESD?

What is ESD?

Electric Shock Drowning, more commonly referred to as ESD, occurs when electricity leaks into water where humans and animals are swimming. When a living creature comes into contact with electricity in the water, it doesn't paint a typical picture of electrocution. Instead, the electricity will render its victim paralyzed, causing them to dip below the surface of the water, allowing the lungs to fill up with water just like a typical drowning scenario.  As little as 10 milliamps, 1/50th the amount used by a 60 watt light bulb, can cause paralysis and drowning!

Unfortunately, the presence of electricity in the water is undetectable by the human eye. It can also be fleeting which means it's not also consistent in it's presence.  


What Causes ESD?

Electricity can leak from multiple sources- anywhere electricity is near water- boats, marines, pools, and hot tubs. we've even had one of our customers who had electricity in her pool by way of a junction box on her house! 

Even if you are diligent in your upkeep, hiring licensed electricians to complete your electric work and professionals for your boat, dock, and pool maintenance, there is still no protection from the weather and animals who like to nibble on cords. and wires.  Rain and flash flooding can also increase chances of ESD due to water levels being higher than normal often covering the electrical aspects of docks and marinas.  Hurricanes and the flooding they bring, can also lead to ESD. There was an unfortunate case during Hurricane Harvey where a teen boy perished when he tried to return home before the flooding subsided.




  • There is no visible warning to electrified water


  • Electric current in the water causes the paralysis of muscles which results in drowning


  • The 2017 National Electrical Code now requires marinas and boatyards to have ground-fault protection to help prevent water electrification. Check to see if your marina, and the boats in the marina, have proper GFCI protection


  • As little as 10 milliamps, 1/50th the amount used by a 60 watt light bulb, can cause paralysis and drowning

If You Suspect ESD


  • Turn power off
  • Throw a life ring
  • Call 911
  • NEVER enter the water – you could become a victim too