Xcel Energy urges safety near dams

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (XCEL ENERGY NEWS RELEASE) – The high flows that have occurred on Wisconsin rivers due to the recent snow melt are a reminder of how powerful the forces of nature can be and how important it is to stay safe when boating, canoeing, kayaking or seeking other recreation opportunities on rivers.

With the May 4 Wisconsin Fishing Opener just around the bend, Xcel Energy is joining with the Midwest Hydro Users Group (HUG) in observing Dam Safety Awareness Week,
April 29 - May 4, to promote public safety awareness near dams and prevent accidents throughout the boating and fishing seasons.

“Boating or canoeing above or below a dam can be very dangerous, especially if the flow changes and your boat is anchored in a hazardous area,” said Rob Olson, hydro operations at Xcel Energy. “If there’s a sudden water discharge from the spillway gates, you risk capsizing.”

Many of the accidents and fatalities that occur near dams could be prevented by using common sense, practicing safety, staying clear of dams and understanding the dangers to be found near them.

Xcel Energy, HUG, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources personnel and local safety officials offer these tips for personal safety near dams:

• Obey all warning signs, barriers and flashing lights, horns and sirens.
• Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) – a life jacket.
• Always stay outside buoy lines and away from restricted areas near dams.
• Never swim or wade 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. They 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.
• Bring a cell phone and contact 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Xcel Energy wants fishermen, boaters, outdoor enthusiasts and visitors to enjoy the many exceptional recreation resources to be found on rivers and around dams in the region.

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