One of the biggest weekends of the year at the Lake of the Ozarks is fast-approaching and that means safety will be a top priority for many families.
Last summer, a brother and sister from Ashland were killed when they were shocked and then drowned while swimming off their family’s dock. Just a few days later, another woman was killed the same way.
Now, an electrician at the Lake is inspecting docks for free, hoping to make a difference.
“Water and electricity are not made to be together, they are not friends,” said electrician Dan Doyle.
Doyle has been seeing a lot of docks lately as there are nearly 25,000 at the Lake of the Ozarks. He says they all should have routine inspections. For those docks that are not inspected, he says the owners are taking a gamble.
Doyle says most of his free inspections find problems that can easily be fixed for under $10.
“They’ve just got a regular cord out here,” Doyle said as he pointed out a problem on a dock. “They should have conduit. If it’s going to be just the wire itself, it should be what we call direct burial. It’s a cable that is rated to be in direct contact with the Earth and be in the outside elements.”
The dock ABC 17 News and Doyle visited had more problems than just the cord.
A person should be able to run up and flip a switch to kill all power to the dock. It’s a feature that Ameren Missouri requires. The dock did not have that feature, but they could unplug it. However, a wet hand could get the person shocked or electrocuted.
Doyle says ever dock is different and only a professional will be able to tell what electrical parts of the dock need to be grounded. He says homeowners often forget about the little things.
“People will bring that ground wire and come up here and attach it to the frame,” Doyle said. “That doesn’t do any good because this is a hinge point. The ground needs to be attached to the part that goes in the water.”
Doyle says it’s not only your dock you should be afraid of, but also your neighbors as electrical currents can travel in the water.
Ameren Missouri has an inspection sheet with 25 tips dock owners should follow and local fire departments charge about $50 for an inspection.
Doyle’s company, Mr. Rewire, is also doing inspections for free.