Lawmaker says $5 fix can prevent tragedies in Kentucky waterways

03/09/2012 01:46 PM

About 60 Americans died on lakes last year, including five in Kentucky, by drowning after being electricuted by a wayward houseboat wire.

State legislators say it’s a preventable death. And one lawmaker is pushing a bill in the last part of the 2012 General Assembly aimed at requiring a few changes at marinas.

(HB356) would require marinas and boat dock owners and operators to prevent electric shocks by ensuring ground fault circuit interrupters are used and no one swims within 100 yards of a boat dock.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kevin Sinnette of Ashland, passed out of a House committee on Thursday with all members voting in favor of it, and now heads for the House floor.

When boats are hooked into an electrical outlet and charged, normally nothing goes wrong, but if something in the wiring faults and charges the water – tragedy can follow.

Kevin Cunningham lost his son in a West Virginia dock accident when the supervisor of the marina told his son it was safe to swim in the harbor. He told lawmakers at a hearing this week that

“I wasn’t a boating kind of guy and didn’t know there was any kind of electric like that around the water,” Cunningham said. “But I soon learned the hard way all about it.”

Sinnette told his colleagues in the House on Thursday that he hopes the bill will prevent Kentucky families from facing these horrors.

“The shock can be coming from any number of boats around the area, and people around can’t do anything to stop it,” Sinnette said. “They just have to watch the person drown.” Sinette says the easiest way to stop the problem is to install the fault circuit interrupter – something that costs around five dollars.

Kevin Cunningham says tragedy like this is something no family can prepare for:


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