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Xcel Energy urges safety near dams

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Xcel Energy is teaming up with the Midwest Hydro Users Group (HUG) to observe Dam Safety Awareness Week, April 29 - May 4.

Rob Olson, of Xcel's Hydro Operations Department, wants to remind people that using boats or canoes above or below a dam can be dangerous.

"If there's a sudden water discharge from the spillway gates, you risk capsizing," Olson said.

Xcel, HUG, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and local safety leaders want to remind you of the following personal safety tips 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.

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