U.S. Army Major Carl Rogers Darnall, Professor of Chemistry at the Army Medical School, gave the first practical demonstration of this in 1910. Shortly thereafter, Major William J. L. Lyster of the Army Medical Department used a solution of calcium hypochlorite in a linen bag to treat water. For many decades, Lyster's method remained the standard for U.S. ground forces in the field and in camps, implemented in the form of the familiar Lyster Bag (also spelled Lister Bag). This work became the basis for present day systems of municipal water purification.

STAT: The number of annual deaths from ESD in the U.S. are unknown, since they are counted among all drownings. But anecdotal evidence shows that ESD is widespread. ESD prevention groups have successfully urged some states to enact safety standards, including the installation of ground-fault circuit interrupters and a central shutoff for a dock's electrical system.