Dam failure

Numerous dams have been built on rivers in Québec, in particular to:

  • Regulate the flow of the rivers
  • Protect shoreline residents from floods
  • Ensure minimum flow during droughts
  • Generate electricity
  • Protect aquatic fauna and flora

Accidents and natural disasters (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 such as tree trunks.

Be informed

If your home is located near a dam, find out from your municipality about:

  • The flood-risk area, to ascertain 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

Follow prevention tips and safety rules

Dam managers monitor conditions on rivers and inform the municipalities of any potentially dangerous situation. During periods of high flood hazard such as thawing or heavy rain, keep abreast of the information disseminated concerning the levels and flow rates of the watercourses (in French only) in your area in order to prepare yourself.

The precautions to take and the safety rules to follow in the event of a dam failure are similar to those that apply to a flood hazard​.

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Evacuate your home

If the authorities require it or you believe your safety is in jeopardy, evacuate your home. Inform your family or the municipality of the place where you plan to stay temporarily.

Return to your home when authorized to do so

If the authorities allow it and your safety is not jeopardized, return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. When you arrive, take pictures to document the damage to your home.

After a dam failure, increase the security of your home

Damage caused by water, mud, flood debris or the shock wave stemming from the dam failure can be significant. Check the structure of your house to ascertain whether or not it is safe.

If your home has been damaged, you must inform:

  • Your insurer
  • The financial institution that granted you a mortgage loan

Increase the security of your home to keep away looters and inquisitive individuals if extensive work must be carried out before you can return to the premises.

  • Barricade the windows
  • Lock the doors
  • Cover damaged areas

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Clean your home and your yard

After a dam failure, if your residence has been flooded, you must clean the premises. Follow the instructions and safety rules that apply in the event of a flood.

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