Public Safety & Awareness

Public Safety Around Dams

More than 50 people have drowned at dams on U.S. streams and rivers within the past two years.*

In an effort to raise awareness of safety hazards at dams, the Indiana Silver Jackets team created a documentary, Over, Under, Gone - The Killer in Our Rivers, which premiered November 16 in Indianapolis. The documentary is available for viewing at the following link:

Over, Under, Gone - The Killer in Our Rivers


Please Help Prevent Drownings at Dams:

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Do Not Boat or Swim Near Low Head Dams!

Under this raging waterfall is a "low head" or "run-of-the river" dam. The flow of water over these structures often creates a deadly "roller effect" that traps victims within a recirculating, practically inescapable current.  Imagine if this truck were a kayaker, boater or swimmer:

Video by Chris Harrod, Anderson County Fire Department, Lawrenceburg, KY

The "Roller Effect"

Click here to view a video that demonstrates the roller effect, or hydraulic jump.

Small dams are deceptively dangerous. They are often hard to see, especially from the upstream side. They don't look dangerous, so people often get too close and become trapped in the hydraulic roller.


ASDSO Resources for Free Download and Distribution

Hidden Dangers and Public Safety at Low-Head Dams. Paper by Bruce A. Tschantz and Kenneth R. Wright, published in the Journal of Dam Safety, V.9 n.1, 2011. Hundreds of people have drowned in the fierce hydraulic currents at low-head dams, but few states regulate these dangerous structures because of their small heights. Structural and non-structural measures can reduce drownings.

What We Know (and don't know) About Low-Head Dams. Paper by Bruce A. Tschantz, published in the Journal of Dam Safety, V.12 n.4, 2014.
Greater public understanding of hazards around low-head dams, posting of warning signs or hazard markers, dam owner education, and establishment of regulatory standards needed to prevent dam drownings.

Identifying Hazards and Improving Public Safety at Low Head Dams. ASDSO Webinar taught by Bruce Tschantz and Paul G. Schweiger, recorded Nov. 12, 2013.

Introduction to Public Safety Risk Evaluation and  Treatment for Dams and Levees. ASDSO Webinar taught by Dave Cattanach, recorded Jan. 13, 2015.


Additional Resources

Safety at Dams in the News

More than 50 drownings have occurred at dams throughout the U.S. over the past two years. See stories from 2016 and 2015. Additional incidents and resources can be researched through the ASDSO Bibliography.

Suggested keywords: accidents, fatalities, low-head dams, public awareness, public safety

                Source: Canadian Dam Association Guidelines for Public Safety Around Dams.

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