What Should You Do When Approaching a Low-Head Dam in Kayaking

low-head dam in kayaking

Last Updated on June 11, 2020 by Michael J. Branco

Kayaking is adventures and has become very popular gradually nowadays, but what should you do when approaching a low-head dam in kayaking? Paddling away off in time? Spending some time on the water is growing more and more popular in the USA. It’s an enjoyable activity. All it needs is just a kayak, or and a paddle.

Therefore, there you’re on your Kayak away, unexpectedly you encounter warning indications of a “Low-head Dam,” written in crimson.

You’ve not ever struck this kind of situation, nor could it be written anywhere about the guide on which to accomplish and how you can prevent a “Low-head Dam.”

Each minute, you are getting nearer. You need to do something! What do you need to do?

Dependent on the circumstance here is

Thus, what’s the key? Lets jump into a bit details. But before going to that learn why it is so dangerous.

How do you get beyond the Dams?

Bets are high. You stand to injure yourself and capsize. However, if you still are aware of how to handle the low-head dam most convenient method, the skill will undoubtedly prove sufficient for most journeys to create.

The easy answer is;

  • Escape
  • Paddle ashore
  • Move from your Kayak and walk around the dam.
  • Out of a beautiful, safe space on the opposite side of this dam. That you never wish to risk getting hauled in.
what should do low head dams kayaking

What’s is a Low-Head Dam?

A low head dam can be a uniformed dip from the lake. This really is a manmade structure that always covers the whole diameter of a river. Low head dams are produced to improve water levels. They’re supposed to boost water supplies. Water irrigation receives a boost from such dams too.

However, there are not without drawbacks. The drawback here for kayakers and canoeists is they are sometimes dangerous but there are differences between kayak and canoe. Even swimmers will discover themselves in real danger sometimes with all the dams.

The threat is coupled with visual struggles. Frequently you’ll discover that it is tough to identify them if on a kayak or swimming pool. It’s since the low head dams appear level from the outside as possible approach. Moreover, the refraction of light causes it to be even more challenging to quantify its thickness.

Based on conditions, the authentic low head dams are found several feet under the surface of the water in the sea kayaking. They could frequently be silent. Thus, it’s challenging to identify them out of the water level. Even though the low-head dams are artificial, you can find natural types too.

The dams can hold ships. Often, swimmers become stuck within at the same time. The dams aren’t secure to play — quite poisonous. Even at low rates, the waters flowing across a low head dam could cause a dangerous position, by which boaters and swimmers are somewhat very likely to receive taken over the border.

Recently a few years ago, in May 2017, two girls kayaking strove to cover the dam and also got captured in the re-calculating water under it. The body of one woman was instantly regained, as the human body of this other woman has been found that the afternoon next.

Thus, it doesn’t need a more compelling example of how dangerous the low head dam is.

However, if you have even far more precise reasons why you ought to prevent a low head dam, afterward dangers are as follows:

  • Taking a look at the tiny drop and water flowing does not emit the smallest sign of how dangerous that the force of this water under is. The power of this water is sufficient to pull down you.
  • Perhaps you are the most potent kayaker or uterus, but no method could you resist such sour force!
  • The debris, like branches, will probably seem so overpowering irrespective of how strong you’re. You’re going to be always pumped down and taken up. It’s strong enough to pull on almost any object near the outside straight to the dam. Thus, it’s an informed guess your Kayak is going to be hauled straight back into the dam, keeping you trapped in the dam.
  • The water across the dam may tug you along with your Kayak under the water, hence rendering it difficult for one to flee.

The reason behind the dangers of Low Head Dams

Dangers of Low Head Dams

Unmarked and tough to Stop

They aren’t always noticeable and therefore are even Hard to see, which they generally appear horizontal out of the outside when you approach. Based on the requirements, the actual dam can be found a couple of feet under the water surface. If you’re in a kayak, it becomes especially tricky to observe that the water pressure at the dam area due to its altitude.

They are inventoried or conspicuous.

In a 2014 survey of low-head dams in the U.S. demonstrated that 28 countries failed to maintain specific inventories of the amount of low-head dams within their nations. It usually means that there are possibly 2,594 low-head dams across the U.S. which do not necessarily possess the compulsory warning signals.
They’re difficult to see, particularly from a kayak.

As a low-head dam is submerged, it could often be quite tricky to place. It is particularly true when you’re in a kayak and also doesn’t have the altitude to observe that the region of water at the dam’s aftermath, which often suggests its existence.

Back-wash or Boil

As water flows on the dam, pumped, water pressure has been generated that can be called “backwash” or “boil.” This hydraulic pressure makes a stable circulating current that will be when compared with an automatic underwater washer. This present brings on the kayaks and also other items down. So trapping you underwater and prevents you from swimming or swimming away.

This strain of this present Creates a spinning area below the water also can be called the “drowning system” rightly.

Rescue if Hard

In case your Kayak is trapped at the low-head dam, it’s all but impossible to save. Similar to this, the more spinning machine brings the rescuing ships, even if they’re attempting to recover people trapped at the boil.

A Fantastic practice would be to even though you may still become trapped, you have to take your chances.

Low-Head Dam In-sight: What Can I do?

The last thing that you wish to strike will be a low-head dam. Even if you end up against you, do not fear whatsoever!

Here is what you could do:

Paddle your way to the nearest bank the moment you detected that the indications of a coming dam. Since the low head dams are difficult to see, there ought to sign caution against moving them outside. As soon as you’ve transferred to the nearest bank, you could walk them around. Always wear a PFD while kayaking. Check out our guide on the best PFD for kayaking.

Protective Steps

  • Organize your route before triggering. That you have no idea the river well irrespective of how many years that you have spent.
  • Collect as much information as possible on the lake. And, pay close focus on the dam’s existent.
  • If you’re not just a nearby, subsequently collect comprehensive guides and maps. Even there’s a veteran map when many dams are entirely on USA Rivers.
  • Don’t necessarily search for hints; they might well not be accessible in each location.

Suggestions for Avoiding Low Head Damp

You will find several Precautionary measures you could take before putting off from the water to prevent any hazardous situation


Plan Your Way

If you’re not out of the Geographic region and do not know the river, it is imperative that you just plan you are the path before triggering. It’s strongly advised you take assistance from guides and maps. It’s also a fantastic idea to find help from local and seasoned paddlers. At the same time, they understand the paths a lot better compared to everyone and certainly will direct you better.

Even with collecting all the info regarding your path, maintain a watch for all these low-head dams since a number aren’t marked and sometimes also inventoried.

Maintain a Watch

The dams are often these walls are a ton simpler to identify and provides you with a more real warning of those mundane low-head dams. It is the reason, you always need to be on the lookout for such arrangements and water pressure hints, so you could instantly turn off and save yourself from falling prey to those low-head dams.

Avoid Kayaking Following a significant Rainfall

All these low-head dams are hazardous after rain. While the water pressure becomes exceptionally high and also the surface with the disturbed water expands into a much bigger space. There’s no solution to steer clear of these dams after much rain should you encounter you.


If you ever experience one of that low-head dam in kayaking, bear in mind your own life is more essential than anything else. You could feel as though you can get pass those low-head dams. However, the more sensible idea will be to prevent it at any cost. The most effective alternative is to throw for the nearest bank, eliminate water and portage around it.

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