The Village of Four Seasons may be the first lake community to officially take a leadership role to inspect residents’ docks in the wake of three recent electrocution deaths.
The board of trustees announced during its regular monthly meeting Wednesday that the village would inspect GFI (ground fault interrupter) connections for residents of the village at no charge.
Electrical experts say that a properly installed and functioning GFI (also called GFICs) would have prevented the recent deaths by tripping the circuit breaker when the ground was made between the persons in the water and the dock.
City Clerk Tom Laird said Wednesday that residents’ docks would be inspected by qualified city staff on a first-come, first-served basis.
“If we find a GFI issue, or any other issue, we will notify the homeowner that some safety issues need to be addressed,” Laird said. “If we find it to be unsafe, we will ask that the power to the dock be shut off. But first, we’ll make sure the dock has a GFI. Many docks do not.”
Four Seasons officials will leave a form on a resident’s door detailing the problem and encouraging them to contact a licensed electrician of their choice.
Details have yet to be worked out with Ameren on possible electric shut offs.
Laird said there wouldn’t be any cost to the homeowners for the inspections.
“This is done at an additional cost to village, but we don’t want another tragedy like the other three,” he explained. “Our citizens need to get the very best safety out of the money they are introducing into the Village of Four Seasons through sales tax.”
Laird said if the decision to offer inspections saves just one life, then it’s worth the added expense.
“We also wish every single person would wear one safety device when swimming in the lake to keep their head above water in case of an accident,” he said.
Life jackets could have saved the lives of the two youth who actually drowned after being shocked unconscious July 4.
Lake Ozark Fire Chief Mark Amsinger was at the meeting to discuss the upcoming LOFPD bond issue, but was asked by trustee Dave Purdue about the dock safety issue. Amsinger said eight fire districts that serve the lake met with Ameren Missouri officials last week to discuss how to prevent future electrocutions.
“We encourage the property owners to take responsibility,” he said, by contacting fire departments, cities, counties, Ameren or other agencies involved with the lake. The public is desperate for information on what to do and where to go, and Amsinger said contacting any of the agencies is a place to start.
Page 2 of 2 - Amsinger said his department has a 20-point check list when inspecting docks, and that new docks and rebuilt docks must be inspected by the fire departments in that particular district when the work is completed.
But as Purdue said, “just because your dock is okay doesn’t mean your neighbor’s is.”