Dams have several functions:
- Regulate the flow of rivers
- Protect shoreline residents from floods
- Ensure minimum flow during droughts
- Generate electricity
- Protect aquatic fauna and flora
Accidents or natural disasters (e.g., floods, earthquakes, landslides) can cause a dam failure, resulting in a sudden rise in the water level. In the event of a total failure, torrents of water and mud may form, carrying hazardous debris.
What to do before
If your home is located near a dam, ask your municipality about
- the flood-risk area, to know if your home is located in the area
- the procedures to be followed in the event of a dam failure
- the manner in which the residents concerned would be warned of such a failure
- assembly points and roads to be used in the event of an evacuation
Keep yourself informed of water levels and flow rates of the watercourses in your area in order to be prepared during periods of high flood hazard (e.g., thawing or heavy rain).
Learn about the precautions to take and the safety rules to follow in the event of a dam failure, as they are similar to those that apply to a flood hazard.
What to do during
Remain sheltered, monitor the evolution of the situation and obey instructions issued by official sources of information (e.g., your municipality, the Gouvernement du Québec).
Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you are unsure where to go, contact your municipality. For more details, consult the government’s Evacuate your home page.
Check whether the structure of your home is safe. Damage caused by water, mud, flood debris or the shock wave stemming from the dam failure can be significant.
Pay attention to stress reactions after a disaster:
- Apathy or loss of energy
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Appropriate psychological guidance can help you cope with responsibilities stemming from the situation. Contact Info-Santé at 811 and select Info-Social to speak with a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Last update: May 20, 2021