Two teenagers came close to drowning in Cowichan Lake on May 26 after being electrocuted by electrical cords in the water near where they were swimming.
Lake Cowichan fire chief Doug Knott said a homeowner on North Shore Road was working on a house boat at approximately 5 p.m. and had run a number of electrical extension cords from his home down the dock to run power tools.
He said the electrical cords, which he suspects were not designed for water conditions, made contact with the lake while the two girls, one of whom is related to the homeowner, were in the water close by.
“Both of the teenagers were mildly electrocuted and received what’s called skeletal muscular paralysis from the shock and were no longer able to swim,” Knott said.
“One went under the water and the other teenager tried to help her, but then both ended up going under. Fortunately, there were people on the dock nearby who helped both girls out of the water.”
Knott said both teenagers were shaken up by the incident but not seriously injured.
He said they were treated at the scene by B.C. Ambulance paramedics, but were not transported to hospital.
Knott said it only takes a surge as small as 10 milliamps to provide a small shock that could cause skeletal muscular paralysis to people in the water up to 100 feet away.
“It’s not a major electrocution, but it is enough to cause paralysis and possibly drown those in the water,” he said.
“We see this incident as an accident, of sorts, but it’s an opportunity to provide education on the use of electricity around water for this homeowner and the public in general.”
Cpl. Tammy Douglas, RCMP media relations officer, said steps have been taken to rectify the situation.
“Both the fire department, Lake Cowichan’s building inspector and the province’s electrical safety branch will be following up on the matter with the homeowner,” she said.
“The incident is not being viewed as a criminal matter.”
— With a file from Andrea Rondeau