Dam safety awareness

Wisconsin Public Service is urging recreational and fishing enthusiasts to BE SAFE around dams and hydro electric facilities.

The message is part of Dam Safety Awareness Week, April 29-May 4, as declared statewide by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

With the start of inland waterways fishing season this week, Dam Safety Awareness Week’s purpose is to emphasize the importance of “safety” near dams and on waterways to help prevent accidents.

Many of the accidents and fatalities that occur near dams could be prevented by using common sense, practicing safety, staying clear of dams and understanding the dangers to be found near them.

Wisconsin Public Service operates 17 hydro electric facilities on the Wisconsin, Peshtigo, Tomahawk, Menominee Rivers and encourages safe recreational activities in areas above and below the dams.

Wisconsin Public Service is a member of the Midwest Hydro Users Group, an association of dam owners who promote safe, efficient, economical and environmentally friendly use of hydroelectric power. The group urges outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the many recreational resources that can be found around dams in Wisconsin.

Some safety precautions include:

– Obey all warning signs, fences, buoys, booms and barriers. They are put there to protect you. The areas inside are dangerous, stay clear of them.

– Any sirens and flashing lights indicate an imminent change in water level or flow.

– Bring a cell phone and contact 911 in an emergency.

– Wear a personal floatation device (PFD), a life jacket.

– Stay a safe distance outside of warning signs, buoys, booms and barriers when fishing, boating or swimming.

– Stay well back from the edge of waters above and below hydroelectric dams and stations.

– Never stand below a dam, or anchor or tie your boat there. Rapidly changing water levels and flows can take you by surprise and could swamp your boat or put you in the grip of an undertow.

– Stay off hydroelectric dams or station structures, unless Wisconsin Public Service has clearly indicated walkways, or observation points.

– Stay well back from the edge of a waterway where footing may be slippery.

– Don’t wade into moving water.

– Never swim near a dam.

– Never boat or fish alone when near a dam.

– Leave your boat motor running to provide maneuvering power.

– Stay clear of spillways; changing currents and “boiling” waves that can make boat control difficult near dams. Reverse currents occur below dams and can pull a boat back toward the dam into the spillway and capsize it.

– Never anchor boats below a dam because water levels can change rapidly.

– Especially in spring, cold water can cause hypothermia that could result in death from drowning.

– Always have a safe escape route planned when near a dam. Be prepared to evacuate at the first sign of danger.

– Set an example for children, who may not be aware of the dangers, even if they can read. State explicitly where they can and cannot go and make sure you are close to them and can see them at all times.