Such a reorganization will cost businesses, but “one way for them to look at this is, what would be the cost of a lawsuit? … You can compare the liabilities to the cost of repairs, ”Earles said. “It’s inexpensive to fix these things, considering the cost of these lost lives.”
In addition to adding a slide to a low-lying dam, property owners, communities and state regulators can use education and effective signage to raise awareness of hazards, Earles said.
“On a broad river like the Dan, you have to be sure they’re really prominent … (with commands like) ‘Danger Ahead’ and ‘Get Out’,” Earles said.
Bold, simple warnings and instructions in multiple languages can save lives, Earles said. However, to be effective, the signs must be placed upstream, well in front of the dams, so that people have enough time to navigate to a bank, get out of the water, and walk around a dam, a practice known as “portaging” is known, Earles and other river experts said.
Duke Energy, which was putting up warning signs at the time of the tubing tragedy on Wednesday, is ready to improve its signage, Norton said.
“While safety on the river is a broader issue for the entire community, we’re installing new, larger warning signs above and below the dam as soon as possible to emphasize that the public shouldn’t get near the dam,” said Norton.