Last Updated on December 16, 2021
Kayaking is hard over a low head dam. People with no proper knowledge could fall into the river. Truly speaking, going over a low-head dam is incredibly dangerous. It will cost your life.
Low-head dams are often called run-of-river dams. They are built over rivers and streams to lift the water levels. It is essential to enrich the local water supplies. Surely, there are plenty of low-head dams all over the country. Some are marked, some are not.
Low-head Dam Danger
The sound of the words of the low-head dam doesn’t quite ring as endangerment. But, it is really a danger in reality. If something out there happened to be life-risk, it would be a low-head dam for kayakers.
Besides, the water circulates very fast near the low head dam. It’s pretty hard to control for paddlers. There are varieties of factors that have the ability to make low head dams dangerous for kayakers. And, you never want to get caught by one of them.
The dams serve from hydropower to flood control, water creates a strong circular current while going over the dam that is why the low head dam is also described as a drowning machine.
It’s not a boiling water kind of thing. The most outrageous thing about a low-head dam is the boil itself. Why? It is more like a cyclone in the water. It keeps circulating current beneath the dam that is created by the water going through it.
The boil drags one downwards, even strong things such as kayaks, paddlers, swimmers. It’s almost impossible to get out the circulation of the boil once you have trapped it.
Some of the low-head dams are not marked
Already said that there is the most dangerous type of dams, some of them aren’t marked in maps. That will cause you while kayaking if you don’t notice. You can fall into unremarkable dams even if you are very careful.
Difficult to spot
Low-head dams are always mysterious. If they are not marked, it isn’t easy to spot them. You are kayaking, and you would not know how close you are to the low head dam. But, you may feel the water flowing as fast as before while near the dam.
Difficulty in rescue
Kayakers falling into a low-head dam are always at risk. And, if the low-head dam is the boil, you already know how complex it gets. Many rescuers and rescue boats put them in danger trying to save the victims. Sometimes, they become victims.
What should you do if you spot a low head dam suddenly?
Not all the low-head dams are marked, which means you may find one while kayaking. When you do, don’t be paralyzed or traumatized. You can figure out how to save yourself only if you take it lightly and go in a clever way.
So, what should you do when you get to witness a low head dam while kayaking? A list of safety tips over there for the betterment of your kayaking journey.
Avoid marked low-head dams
Don’t try to be a hero thinking paddling through the dams. Every map-point and high-end GPS device has the low-head dams marked. Note the mark from GPS and avoid it at any cost. You know, once you get into the low-head dam, it’s almost impossible to come back.
Furthermore, some of the low head dams may not be marked in GPS devices or maps, but there would be warning signs installed several hundred yards from the dam. Watch yourself and keep your eyes open for the signs.
Paddle to shore as soon as possible
It is about the time when you unexpectedly come close to the low-head dams. You can get out of the water by paddling harder than before. It seems inconceivable, though. Once you have the mindset, you can get over it.
Otherwise, the fast-flowing water of the low head dam would pull you downwards. So, be sure to have your eyes open. And, by any chance, you get to witness a dam, back to the shore immediately though paddling.
If you are kayaking the longest way, take the stronger paddle with you. Maybe, it can be your savior.
Carry your kayak around the dam
After paddling securely to the shore, get out from the kayak and carry it around the dam. It’s the only easiest solution. You cannot do it without a lightweight kayak.
The best factor here is to avoid the dam from the very beginning when you find yourself approaching one of the dams. Who wants to fall over the boil and be lost in the mysterious water?
Tips to avoid low head dam
Always research the area before going to kayak. Mark every small spot from the map. If the map does not have the current condition about low head dams, ask the local people.
While paddling, if you face weirs, tackle it carefully. I would suggest going over the edge of the weir as straight as possible. And then, tip to a safe side and paddle as fast as you can to reach the shore.
If you are a newbie and somehow find yourself approaching a low-head dam, portage the kayak in a safe area as early as possible. At least you can save yourself.
Kayaking is easy-peasy. But it’s almost hard to get far away when it comes down to the low head dams, even for the expert one. Some dams are hard to spot and dangerous to come upon unawares. You don’t want to drive too close to the edge as there is strong flowing water on the dam.
If you kayak over a low-head dam, can’t avoid it, be sure to check your vest, make your body light, and paddle as fast as to through and pass the dam. See, these are really dangerous ways to follow. Before going to paddle, you should get info about the area.
Is it dangerous to swim in a dam?
A dam is not a swimming pool and particularly dams are too deep to swim. Dams are dangerous and life risk places to dive and enjoy. Don’t dare to risk your life.
Let’s not forget life comes in once. Kayaking is fun, and crossing the limitation and going over the low-head dams would make your life miserable, as well as close people. If anything to query, the contact room is always open.
Rescue from a low head dam
I have been kayaking since I am young & have extensive experience with different kayak brands. During every vacation of my children, we made camping and kayaking plans. My younger boy loves fishing but he scared of kayaking. I would love to share my experience throughout this blog.