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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. 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).

Consult the local media for status reports on the situation. 

Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you don't know where to go, contact your municipality. For more details, consult the page Evacuation This hyperlink will open in a new window. in the event of a disaster.

What to do after

You may return to your home when officials have given their permission and it is safe to do so. Return home during the day when it is easier to see problems and hazards. Visit the government’s reintegration This hyperlink will open in a new window. page for important advice and safety recommendations.

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.

If extensive work must be carried out before you can return to your home, increase the security to keep away looters and inquisitive individuals:

  • lock the doors
  • barricade the windows
  • cover damaged areas

Make a list of damage caused by the water and take photos or videos as proof:

  • Notify your municipality, insurance company and mortgage lender of the damage.
  • For claim purposes, retain all receipts or proof of purchase for damaged goods.

If your home was flooded, consult the measures to take after a flood.

Pay attention to your reactions after a disaster:

  • anxiety
  • lack of interest or energy, aggression
  • 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 This hyperlink will open in a new window. to speak with a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.