Public Safety & Awareness

Public Safety Around Dams

The issue of public safety around dams is of importance to anyone directly or indirectly involved in recreational activities in rivers or streams. 

Each year, dozens of lives are lost at dams on U.S. streams and rivers, many at low-head dams, also known as run-of-river dams or "drowning machines." These structures, generally less than 15 feet high, can create backflow currents and turbulence capable of producing disorientation, hypothermia, exhaustion, and brutal battering. The forces combine to create a practically inescapable circular trap for even the strongest, lifejacket-clad swimmer.


Learn more - and please spread the word - with the resources available through the following links. Additional incidents and resources can be researched through the ASDSO Bibliography (Keyword: safety at dams).



Papers, Reports, and Webinars
Freely available materials for unlimited use and distribution

Incident databases and low-head dam inventories

Videos, Animations, and Presentations
Tools to spread the safety at dams message

Safety at Dams in the News
Reports of incidents from 2015 to present

Communicate the message
Social media/Letter-writing campaigns

Safety at Dams Initiatives
Actions by organizations and individuals

Best practices for signage and warnings, dam modification and removal, and emergency response

Staying Safe at Dams
Information for boaters, paddlers, anglers, swimmers, parents, teachers, and others  


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