High waters keeping Des Moines River rescue teams busy

DES MOINES, Iowa-  The Des Moines Fire Department has been called to four incidents recently involving people or boats in distress in the Des Moines or Raccoon Rivers, three of those within the last couple of days.

The department says with more rain likely this weekend, they're reminding people recreating on the river to stay away from the low head dam.Increased flows are making an already dangerous spot, even more dangerous, because of the velocity and power of moving water.   

They say the water pouring over the dam creates a churning backwash or current, known as a "hydraulic," -a recirculating current.    The roiling water takes any object-including a person-to the bottom of the stream, releases it to the surface, sucks it back to the face of the dam, and pushes it back to the bottom. This cycle can continue indefinitely. 

Some rules and reminders to keep you safe:

· Ensure that each passenger in a boat or standing near water is wearing a properly fitted life jacket.

· Never fish, swim, play or anchor above the dam.

· DO NOT cross the Safety Cable above any Dam.

· City ordinance prohibits swimming anywhere in the river within the city limits.

· Obey all safety and warning signs.

.· Be alert for debris, obstructions and partially submerged objects.

 · Ensure that you inspect your water craft to verify it is compliant with all DNR regulations (eg.working navigation and backup lighting, boat motor and fuel system are in working order, rescuethrow bags, etc.)

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