LAKE LOTAWANA, Mo. -- For the second weekend in a row, a person has died from being electrocuted at the Lake of the Ozarks. A current of electricity hit the water and killed 26-year-old Jennifer Lankford while she swam.
Her death follows the 4th of July deaths of siblings Alexandra and Brayden Anderson. The 13-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother were electrocuted while swimming near a private dock. Incidents like those raise questions about how safe we are on modern docks built on area lakes.
"The problem comes in with Lake of the Ozarks because there are no real building codes that have been taken to heart there. Lake Lotawana, Winnebego, the local lakes around here all have very strict codes that must be complied with to get the electricity to the water, to the dock to function," says Lyman Dayton, an electrician working with the Boat Dock Division of COTA Electric for the past seven years.
"One of the most common things we have that we run into out here is we run into exposed wire from a break in the conduit such as this," he said.
Dayton says the majority of the docks around the metro are up to code but those that have fallen into disrepair pose a risk to anyone swimming around it.
"If you have an electrical box where you have wires that are open and exposed that's not good," he says.
Dayton says a quick visual inspection is the easiest way to tell if the area you are in is safe from the possibility of electrocution.
"When you go on to a dock, turn the lights on, try the outlets, see if they work. If they are not working, there's a reason they're not working," said Dayton. "Look and see if you have any bare wires hanging. See if you have anything that looks like there is something wrong. Safety has the be the first rule. Anytime you have electricity around water you've got to be very very careful," he added.
Dayton also says if you feel electricity in the water, swim away from the dock or swim to land. It's when you grab the metal that you become part of the electrical circuit and are at risk of being electrocuted.