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Useful Links to Low-Head Dam Safety Issues

posted May 12, 2017
by Charlie Walbridge

A discussion of low head dam hydrology, and what features make a dam dangerous, and how to mitigate them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsYgODmmiAM

 

A list of low-head dam related fatalities nationwide:

http://krcproject.groups.et.byu.net/browse.php

 

A list of dam-related fatalities in Iowa going back over 100 years. Iowa has done a remarkable job removing or modifying low head dams.

http://www.iowawhitewater.org/lhd/fatalities.html

 

The original video on dam safety: The Drowning Machine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ZRL2d5FtU

40 years of Accident Databass Statistics

posted April 3, 2017
by Charlie Walbridge

 

American Whitewater

 Accident Database Statistics: 1975 - 2016

 

Total Records

1588

Fatalities

1262

Near Misses

  268

Injuries

    58

 

 

United States

1192

Canada

    30

All Other

    40

 

 

Fatalities by Boat Type

Kayak

  446

Canoe

  183

Raft and IK

  486

Other

  146

Commercial

  231

Private

1030

 

 

Fatalities by Cause

Cold Water

  326

Flush Drowning

  310

High Water

  290

No PFD

  201

Strainer  

  196

Entrapment 

  175

One Boat Trip

  166

Undercuts/ Sieves

  159

Near Drown (Nonfatal)

  147

Dam Hydraulic

  116

Failed Rescue

    88

Caught in Nat. Hydraulic

    70

Equipment Trap

    63

Solo Paddler

    55

Head Injury

    52

Heart Attack

    48

Foot Entrapment

    45

Impact/ Trauma

    42

Health Problem

    53

Spinal Injury (nonfatal)

    26

Vertical Pin

    13

 

 

Fatalities by River Difficulty

Class I-II

128

Class III

280

Class IV

200

Class V

173

 

 

Fatalities by Decade

1977-1986

   48

1987-1996

 219

1997-2006

 453

2007-2016

       530

 

 

Fatalities By Water Level

Low

94

Medium

370

High

420

Flood

33

 

 

Ages

Under 18

300

18-34

413

35-65

485

over 65

69

 

 

Fatalities by State

Alabama

  16

Alaska

  26

Arizona

  21

Arkansas

  13

California

109

Colorado

155

Connecticut

    9

Georgia

    7

Hawaii

    1

Idaho

  74

Illinois

  10

Indiana

  11

Iowa

    3

Kansas

    7

Kentucky

  11

Maine

  14

Maryland

  14

Massachusetts

    7

Michigan

  14

Minnesota

    6

Missouri

    7

Montana

  50

Nevada

    2

New Hampshire

  14

New Jersey

  16

New Mexico

  10

New York

  52

North Carolina

  33

North Dakota

    2

Ohio

  16

Oklahoma

    3

Oregon

  60

Pennsylvania

  66

Rhode Island

    2

South Carolina

  29

Tennessee

  36

Texas

  22

Utah

  29

Vermont

    6

Virginia

  30

Washington

  69

West Virginia

  78

Wisconsin

  12

Wyoming

  20

 

 

 

 

No Whitewater Fatalities were reported in Delaware, DC, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, & South Dakota

 

Top 10

1.Colorado

155

2. California

109

3. West Virginia

  78

4. Idaho

  74

5. Washington

  69

6. Pennsylvania

  66

7. Oregon

  60

8. Montana

  50

9. Tennessee

  36

10. North Carolina

  33

 

 

 

USCG Project Experts Launch National Human Propelled Boat Standards Survey

posted August 4, 2013
by Thomas O'Keefe
article photo 2

A team of experts assembled with U.S. Coast Guard grant funding seeks national content validation of a set of entry level, skill-based Human (manually propelled) boat operation standards. The collaborative development of sail, power and human propelled standards will eventually be recognized (not mandated) by the US Coast Guard for incorporation in recreational boating training programs nationwide. Recreational paddling and rowing enthusiasts and especially those with experience in On-Water teaching or training are urged to participate in an on-line survey.

AW Partners with Dam Safety Researcher

posted June 12, 2013
by Charlie Walbridge
article photo 2

American Whitewater's Accident Database contains more than 1000 fatal accidents and near misses reported over the last  35 years. We sometimes give qualified water safety researchers access to this material. Our latest research partner is Ed Kern,  a Masters Degree candidate in civil engineering at Brigham Young University in Utah. Click through for more information and a link to his web site.

Western North Carolina River Rescue Rodeo - Sept 29th, 2013

posted April 29, 2013
by Mark Singleton
article photo 2

Teams of canoes and decked boats will compete in river rescue events on the Tuckasegee River in Dillsboro, NC.

Life and Death Beyond the Edge

posted January 9, 2013
by Adam Herzog

An article by Adam Herzog discusses risk taking, death, and other issues for Class V kayakers. First Published in Site Zed, a web site for thoughfrul essays about paddling sponsored by Immersion Research.

Adding Death into the Equation

posted October 2, 2012
by Doug Ammons

White Salmon River Homecoming Celebration (WA)

posted September 7, 2012
by Thomas O'Keefe
article photo 2

Removal of Condit Dam is nearing completion and we are getting ready to celebrate the moment on Saturday September 29th. Contractors still have equipment in and along the river that will be removed over the next couple weeks and a log jam resulting from the dam breach still needs to be addressed. It's important for paddlers to wait until this work is done and everyone considering this reach needs to understand the hazards associated with the class IV/V entrance drop into the Narrows.

Link to Article about Liability & Rescue

posted April 2, 2012
by Charlie Walbridge

Chelan Gorge Releases Canceled for July 10 and 11

posted July 6, 2010
by Thomas O'Keefe
article photo 1

After consulting with American Whitewater, Chelan PUD has made the decision to cancel the planned whitewater boating opportunities on the Chelan Gorge this weekend (July 10 and 11). Providing this opportunity requires a balancing act between lake level, spill and whitewater boating and unfortunately, at this time the PUD is not able to accommodate all three. Boaters should know that AW is actively engaged with Chelan PUD to document the reasons for canceling this weekend's release and we will work together to determine the best means of providing the opportunities we agreed to. The release on July 24 and 25 is scheduled to take place as planned.

Dealing with Sudden Death

posted July 14, 2009
by Charlie Walbridge

Sudden death is a charged emotional event, often compounded by trauma among those who witness a drowning accident or try to rescue or resuscitate someone. Few people realize how little time you have for a successful drowning rescue. The sad facts are that unless a drowning person is pulled out within 6-10 minutes of going under, their chances are almost zero. Anger or displaced anger towards rescue and recovery efforts are not unusual. Excellent Resources for managing sudden death grief and trauma can be found on the Higgins & Langley website. These pamphlets, created by the Royal Hospital Foundation in Belfast, Northern Island, can be downloaded as needed

 

The GPS Project: Taking the “Search” out of “Search and Rescue”

posted September 1, 2006
by Eric Nies
article photo 1
Over the next decade, AW hopes to serve as the collecting point for GPS data on whitewater rivers for the purpose of aiding rescue professionals. We hope to create a set of GPS data for river runs listed on AW’s website, starting with the coordinates of the put-in, continuing with info on the major rapids and landmarks, and finishing with the numbers for the take-out.

A Primer on Critical Incident Stress

posted February 10, 2006

American Whitewater's National Accident Study

posted February 6, 2006
by Jennifer Plyler
Jennifer Plyler's National Accident Study was an effort to take a close look at fatal accidents in the paddlesport community using both U.S. Coast Guard and American Whitewater data. It is the most detailed look at accidents involving canoes, kayaks, and inflatables throughout the country.

Table: Whitewater Fatalities 1975-2005

posted February 5, 2006
by Charles Walbridge
This has tables showing the number of fatal accidents by year and by state over the past 30 years.

Whitewater is Safer Than You Think

posted February 5, 2006
by Laura Whitman
Laura Whitman's article compares the accident rate among kayakers with other common sports and activities.

American Whitewater Safety Archive - 1955-2000

posted September 27, 2005
by Dave Steindorf

Paying for Rescue (SAR) Costs

posted October 8, 2003
by Jason Robertson
article photo 1
Boaters want to be responsible, largely self-reliant visitors to America's public lands.  Our community does not desire to create a financial burden on the system as a whole. The issue of how government agencies pay for and execute search and rescue services is a thorny one that cannot be addressed with simplistic responses. In the attached analysis, American Whitewater describes why we believe there are significant legal and discrimination issues preventing the charging of boaters for rescue services, or requirement of medical and/or rescue insurance before being granted a boating permit.

Behold a Pale Horse, An Analysis: Safety concerns can result in lost access

posted July 9, 2002
by Jason Robertson
Well-intentioned, albeit misplaced, management decisions to restrict access are often made in order to protect you. These decisions affect the FERC relicensing process, recreational whitewater releases from dams, result in a proliferation of permits, and have led to a loss of access on many rivers. This article relates examples through which access has been limited by river managers' fears for your safety.

Flatwater Study Finds Alcohol Boosts Drowning Risk

posted December 19, 2001
by Jason Robertson
CHAPEL HILL - Recreational boat passengers are just as likely as operators to die as a result of drinking alcohol, according to a new study of boating deaths in North Carolina and Maryland. One reason the study revealed was that passengers who have been drinking often topple overboard and drown.

Risk Management in Six Steps

posted January 22, 2001
by Jason Robertson
The success of any risk management plan results from the understanding, simplification, and implementation of a program that actually gets used by everyone in the organization. The essential basics are fairly simple. Here is what American Whitewater has found based on examination of dozens of lawsuits against outfitters and the results of conducting hundreds of risk management consultations.

Liability and Recreational Use Statutes

posted December 11, 2000
by Jason Robertson
American Whitewater has consolidated the recreational use statutes from all 50 states. Now, for the first time, you can find out what your rights as a landower or recreationist are - no matter where you live in the United States. This page has links that describe how to protect access, and yourself as a landowner or recreationist. It even includes links to the actual laws!