April 29-May 4 has been declared Dam Safety Awareness Week by Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) is urging recreational and fishing enthusiasts to practice safety around dams and hydroelectric facilities.
With the start of the inland waterways fishing season, the 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 are preventable by using common sense, practicing safety, staying clear of dams and understanding the dangers to be found near them.
WPS operates 17 hydroelectric facilities on the Wisconsin, Peshtigo, Tomahawk and Menominee rivers and encourages safe recreational activities in areas above and below the dams.
Some safety precautions include:
• Obey all signs and barriers. They are for the public’s protection.
• 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 flotation device (life jacket).
• Always stay outside buoy lines and away from restricted areas near dams.
• 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 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.
• Always have a safe escape route planned when near a dam. Be prepared to evacuate at the first sign of danger.
For more information, visit wisconsinpublicservice.com/.