(LANSING) – In honor of National Dam Safety Awareness Day, 2018, the City of Lansing’s Office of Emergency Management will join with the Association of State Dam Safety Organizations (ASDSO) to emphasize the danger of low head dams.
The Office of Emergency Management and ASDSO will be demonstrating the danger of low head dams by letting a canoe float into the boil of the North Lansing dam on the Grand River in Lansing’s Old Town. This event will be held at 1:00 on May 31st at the Brenke Fish Ladder and Sculpture next to the North Lansing Dam in Old Town.
National Dam Safety Awareness day is held each year on May 31st to commemorate the failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on May 31, 1889. The issue of dam safety was not widely recognized when the failure claimed more than 2,200 lives. While dam safety has improved drastically since the failure of the South Fork Dam, there are still improvements to be made. Many people are not aware of their role in dam safety. Not only is it does NDSAD focus on keeping our dams safe, it focuses on keeping people safe 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. These forces combine to create a practically inescapable circular trap for even the strongest, life jacket-clad swimmer. More people die each year at low head dams than from the failure of dams themselves.
Dam Safety Tips:
1. Teach your friends and family about low head dams and other hazards in or near the water.
2. Wear your personal floatation device (PFD).
3. Know the waterway (river or lake).
4. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
5. Be aware of changes in water elevation and velocity due to weather events in the past 72+ hours.
6. Stay clear of dams both up and downstream.
7. If someone is in trouble, do NOT enter the water to assist them. Use a throw bag or other remote assistive device.