By this time last summer, three victims were electrocuted at Lake of the Ozarks. This summer has not seen the same kind of fatal incidents, but has had its share of close calls.
According to Mid County Fire Marshall, Chris Bachman, the lake area has seen at least six close calls since July 4.
One of the most serious incidents occurred in Mid County's district on the evening of July 11. According to officials, eight college-aged girls from Kansas City were staying at a friend's lake home near the 35 mile marker. The girls were enjoying a swim around dusk when one girl felt her arm go completely numb. She described the feeling as "My arm went to sleep" to Mid County personnel.
The girl swam with her other arm out of the area where she was feeling the electricity and warned the other swimmers. Two of the other girls swam to a nearby dock and were shocked as they grabbed the dock frame to get out of the water.
In the meantime, one of the other friends had swam to the dock of the home they were staying at and safely got out of the water. The other girls swam safely to that dock and were able to get out of the water quickly.
Mid County Fire Department was contacted the following day. Bachman arrived at the scene and after investigating the area, realized that the electricity was coming from a neighboring dock. The dock had sent out 72 volts into the water.
"If you are in the water and feel tingling, the safest thing to do is to swim away from the dock," Bachman said.
He added that swimming to a nearby dock is not always the safest option since it is impossible to detect with dock the electricity is coming from without the proper tools. He suggests swimming out to an open area and yelling for help. If possible, have friends pick up the swimmer in a boat.
If the girls would have swam to the dock that was emitting the electricity, Bachman said they would have been electrocuted.
Bachman and other area fire officials have been doing their best to educate residents on dock safety. In the past month, he has spoken at the Camdenton Rotary club and a Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast.
Bachman said that due to education, he feels like many residents are taking dock safety seriously and that many are opting to bring their dock up to code even if it is not a requirement.
Mid County wants to remind residents that routine maintenance needs to be done on their dock yearly to check for items such as pivot points in rough water and making sure bonding wires are attached at all pivot points.
Page 2 of 2 - "There is maintenance associated with keeping your dock safe," Bachman said.
The dock associated with the July 11 incident has since been rewired and brought up to code.