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What every parent needs to know about electric shock drowning

Published: Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 11:39 AM
Updated: Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 12:38 PM

Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning Explained
Sean Gallup
Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning Explained(Sean Gallup)

Two Alabama teens jumped from a boat dock into a fresh water lake to take a swim after a day of picnicking and enjoying the warming spring weather. But sadly, one of them never made it home.


The body of one of the girls, Carmen Johnson, 15, of Hartselle, didn’t resurface. Her body was recovered an hour later, having drowned in the fresh waters of Smith Lake in Winston County, Ala.


While authorities have not said for sure what caused Carmen’s death, they believe the Priceville High School cheerleader may have drowned after she was electrocuted by  a 120-volt alternating current that was “leaking” into the water.


>>Have a question about the news? Click here for more explainers 


Carman’s death last week highlights a little-known but growing danger that comes with swimming near docks and the boats secured to them. And it sounds like every parent's nightmare.


The incidents of  Electric Shock Drowning – or drowning that happens as a result of an electric shock – have been on the rise as boats and docks are being stocked with more electric appliances and devices. If not properly installed or maintained, the devices can “leak” electric current into the water, setting up the potential for tragedy.


As the weather gets warmer and more people head outdoors for a fun time on the water, here’s a primer on ESD and some steps to take to keep safe this summer.


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What is an Electric Shock Drowning (ESD)?


ESD happens when a swimmer comes into contact with electrical current.  The current – in this case, alternating current (AC) – causes skeletal muscular paralysis, lasting for only an instant, but long enough to incapacitate a swimmer allowing him to drown. 


Where does the electricity come from?


The electric current “leaks” from boats and docks into the water. It can come from frayed wires, improperly wired systems or an AC grounding system that is damaged or malfunctioning.


What causes people to be electrocuted?


Electrical current will always attempt to return to its source in order to complete the elecrical circuit. Electrical current is resourceful and will find any way to do that, taking the path of least resistance and most conductivity (anything that will help the current move along its path). The way alternating current (AC) searches for its source is the most deadly for humans because it takes only a small amount of AC to disrupt the electrical impulses that control our muscles and nerves.  


Why does ESD happen in fresh water and not salt water?


We go back to conductivity for the answer. Fresh water is not a good electrical conductor. Because it is not a good conductor, the alternating current looks for something better. A human body in fresh water becomes that something better. The high amount of salt in humans make our bodies far better conductors of electrical current than fresh water.


How much electricity is needed for this to happen?


Not much at all. It takes only small amounts of leaking AC to incapacitate or electrocute a person. As small an amount as 15 milliamps can cause paralysis, 100 milliamps – or a third of the amount of electricity need to light a 40-watt light bulb – can kill a person in seconds. In comparison, a double AA battery produces 2400 milliamps per hour.


Doesn’t anyone regulate docks and boats secured to them?


There are marine codes that regulate docks and boats. They are NFPA 303 (Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards), NFPA 70, and National Electric Code 555 (NEC). also notes that “boats not wired in accordance with standards set forth by the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) can be a source of AC leakage.”


Can you tell if water is unsafe to swim in?


No, but here are some tips that could keep you safe. 

  • Never swim within 100 yards of any fresh water marina or boatyard.
  •  If you have a boat, have it tested to make sure it is not leaking electricity. You can buy a clamp meter and test it yourself.
  • Have a qualifed electrician do any electric work needed on a dock or on your boat. 
  • Do not use a household extension cords for powering your docked boat.  

If you feel "tingly" in the water, you could be at risk for shock. In that case you should: (courtesy of

  • Have someone turn off the shore power connection at the meter base and/or unplug shore power cords. 
  • Tell anyone in the water to move away from the dock.
  • Stop anyone else from entering the water.
  • If you believe someone has been shocked, reach, throw, row, but don’t go into the water to get to anyone who you think  has been shocked.
  •  Call for help. Use 911 or VHF Channel 16. 
  • Try CPR on the person; don't stop until trained help arrives.
Sources:;; Boating Magazine; Decatur Daily News

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2 charged after woman found being eaten alive by maggots, police say

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:03 AM

Terry Sorrells (left) and Christian Sorrells (right) have been charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person. (Photos via Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)
Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office
Terry Sorrells (left) and Christian Sorrells (right) have been charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person. (Photos via Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)(Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

A Georgia woman was found covered in cockroaches and maggots, bedridden on a sheet smeared in feces, a police report says. 

Her caretakers and family members, 54-year-old Terry Ward Sorrells and 18-year-old Christian Alexander Sorrells, have both been charged with neglect of a disabled adult or elder person

>> On Cops: Home invaders tie up woman and son, steal jewelry

Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services responded to the Sugar Hill home where the woman lived with Terry Sorrells and Christian Sorrells on March 15 after receiving a call for medical assistance. The woman was unresponsive but still alive, the report says.

The AJC is not identifying the woman because she is an alleged victim of neglect.

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When the fire crew arrived, they said they saw that maggots and roaches were eating the woman’s flesh and her legs were “completely black and showing signs of decomposition.” They had transported her a month earlier with a “mega mover” — a tarp-like object used by emergency medical technicians to move obese patients — and she was sitting on the same mega mover, now “completely brown and black” and covered in feces. The fire crew called police because “they did not believe she would live much longer and felt a moral obligation to report this,” the report says.

The living conditions inside the home on Pine Tree Circle were “deplorable,” the responding officer said in his report. The officer was “overwhelmed with the smell of human feces and garbage” when he walked into the house, and roaches were crawling on the walls and ceiling of “every single room,” the report says. Garbage lined the floor from the entryway to the kitchen, and covered the floor of the bathroom. In Terry Sorrells’ bedroom, there was a two-foot-high pile of empty Monster energy drink cans, with garbage piled in a closet and covering a dresser, the report says. 

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Terry Sorrells had gone with the woman in an ambulance before the officer arrived, but Christian Sorrells remained at the house. He told the officer that the woman had been bedridden for one or two years and had been progressively getting worse; she had been admitted into a long-term care facility, but returned home after Medicaid would not cover the cost, the report says. Christian Sorrells also told the officer that no one in the house worked. 

Christian Sorrells was transported to Gwinnett County police headquarters and Terry Sorrells was arrested later that day. Both were booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center after 10 p.m. March 15. They remain in jail, each held on a $22,200 bond. 


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Man says he was kicked off flight over business logo on his shirt

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 7:13 AM

Professional skateboarder Justin Mallory says his logo got him kicked off of a recent flight.
Professional skateboarder Justin Mallory says his logo got him kicked off of a recent flight.(

He makes a living with his skateboard and his brand, but this month Justin Mallory said that’s exactly what got him in trouble. 

Mallory claims he was kicked off a flight out of Atlanta because of his business logo on his shirt which features guns. 

“I was flabbergasted. I was taken aback,” Mallory said. 

The professional skateboarder said he was kicked off a Frontier Airlines flight because of the logo.

“The shirt is just a graphic,” Mallory told Wilfon. 

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He said the airline said the shirt made another passenger uncomfortable.

Mallory’s lawyer, Mawuli Davis, calls it discrimination.

“The shirt, some would say he’s dressed in a hip-hop fashion, and he’s African-American. Those three things may have all contributed to the discrimination and profiling against him,” Davis said. 

Frontier Airlines tells a much different story.

In a statement to WSB, the airline indicated Mallory’s shirt and race had nothing to do with it.

Frontier said Mallory “became argumentative prior to boarding when asked to check a skateboard. The passenger boarded the aircraft and continued to exhibit disruptive behavior.”

“That’s totally false,” Mallory told Wilfon. 

Because he was kicked off the flight, Mallory said he missed a skateboarding trade show where he planned to promote his brand.

Instead, he said it got him in trouble.

“It was a terrible situation. It was embarrassing. I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else. I wouldn’t wish it on someone,” Mallory said. 

Mallory and his lawyer told Wilfon they are considering a lawsuit.

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Trump: 'Crazy Joe Biden' would 'go down fast and hard' in a fight

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:58 AM

President Trump And Twitter

President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Thursday to slam Joe Biden over controversial comments that the former vice president made at a rally Tuesday.

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Vigorous exercise in middle age could help prevent dementia, study finds

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 9:25 PM


A high level of physical fitness during middle age may significantly reduce the risk of dementia, new research suggests.

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The findings, which were published this month in the scientific journal Neurology, showed that women with a high level of cardiovascular fitness during middle age had a nearly 90 percent lower risk of dementia than women who were just moderately fit.

"[The results] indicate that negative cardiovascular processes may be happening in midlife that could increase the risk of dementia much later in life," lead study author Dr. Helena Hörder, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told Forbes.

>> Related: Have trouble sleeping? Research says that may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s

"These findings are exciting because it's possible that improving people's cardiovascular fitness in middle age could delay or even prevent them from developing dementia," she said.

Researchers studied a group 191 women between 38 and 60 years old in Sweden over a 44-year period of time (1968-2012). The participants were initially asked to complete an ergometer cycling test to evaluate their cardiovascular fitness.

"The level that you are so exhausted that you have to interrupt the test is a measure, in watts, of your work capacity," Hörder told CNN. "Cardiovascular fitness or endurance can also be tested in a submaximal test where you don't push the person to maximal capacity."

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Based on their performance in the initial testing, the women were divided into three groups: 59 were classified as "low fitness", 92 were "medium fitness" and 40 were "high fitness." The researchers then tracked the women until 2012, closely examining which groups developed symptoms of dementia and which did not.

In total, 23 percent developed some form of dementia in the proceeding decades. However, the percentage was significantly higher in the low and medium fitness groups when compared to those in the high fitness category.

"I was not surprised that there was an association, but I was surprised that it was such a strong association between the group with highest fitness and decreased dementia risk," Hörder said. "Many of those who interrupted the test at submax, very low watt level, probably had indications for a poor cardiovascular health status. This might indicate that processes in the cardiovascular system might be ongoing many decades before onset of dementia diagnosis."

» RELATED: Inability to smell peppermint linked to dementia, study says 

Although the results are significant and appear to align with previous research, there were some limitations, such as the relatively small number of subjects, the fact that fitness level was only measured once, and the lack of filtering for other risk factors for dementia.

Future research, the scientists said, should look at a larger and more diverse sample, analyze physical fitness more often and also address other potential factors.

"One of the missing pieces of a study like this – and really the weakness in the literature to date – is that the kinds of studies that we have mostly seen are association studies. These are studies of correlations, and they can't necessarily talk about causality," Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, who was not involved in the new study, said.

>> Related: People with dementia: Atlanta police being trained to empathize

"The picture that is really emerging from the literature is a picture about the importance of fitness in midlife, not just old age, when it comes to protecting your brain health and preventing or delaying Alzheimer's disease and other dementias,” he added.

Approximately 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is sixth leading cause of death among American adults.

Globally, the World Heath Organization estimates that nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia, with 10 million new cases every year.

The Alzheimers Association suggests people should quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, stay socially engaged, challenge their minds by reading or playing games and take care of their heart health to reduce their risk of cognitive decline.

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