Dam Safety

While dams are vital to hydroelectric production, they can pose hazards. Remember to always use caution when near dams, and be aware of the surrounding areas. Please stay off dam structures unless an area is clearly marked for public travel. Also, be alert to changes in water levels.

If on land near a dam, please follow these tips:

  1. STAY OUT OF THE DANGER ZONES, both upstream and downstream of the dam.
  2. Stay away from the edge of the water above and below hydroelectric dam facilities. Surfaces can be extremely slippery!
  3. Avoid dry riverbed areas. Sudden water discharge from the dam gates can abruptly fill these riverbeds, turning them into rapidly flowing waterways.

If near a dam and in the waterway for recreational purposes, damsafety.org reminds you to follow these tips:

  1. Know the area: Check maps or speak with locals to get information about hazards on that waterway. If swimming or fishing, always remain a safe distance from the structure to avoid sudden currents. If kayaking, canoeing, or boating, always portage around the structure or turn around well before reaching the dam to avoid being pulled over.
  2. Read the signs: Obey any and all posted signage and barriers in the area, including flood warnings, restricted access signs, portage signs, or other posted signs.
  3. Dress for danger: Wear a personal floatation device (such as a life jacket) if you are boating, fishing, swimming, or otherwise recreating in or around a waterway.
  4. Tell someone your plans: Let someone know, such as a friend or family member, when and to where you are heading out, and let them know when you return so they know you are safe.
  5. If you see someone in trouble, do not enter: Never enter the water yourself to try and help someone. Instead, call 911 and use a remote assistive device, such as a rope or throw bag, to try and pull them back to safety.