National Dam Safety Awareness Day Reminds Everyone to Have a Plan

CALIFORNIA -- Thursday is National Dam Safety Day, and PG&E is using this as an opportunity to remind people about the dangers of living near a dam.

Posted: May. 31, 2018 5:50 PM

CALIFORNIA -- Thursday is National Dam Safety Day, and PG&E is using this as an opportunity to remind people about the dangers of living near a dam.

No one will forget the massive and confusing evacuations when the Oroville Dam Spillway failed; Thursday is a day to remember that, and also come up with a plan should something like that happen again.

PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno says this is a great time to think about an evacuation plan .

“Just as you have an earthquake plan in California, you also – if you live or work below a dam – it's important to have an evacuation plan where you can meet and go to higher ground,” he said.

From packing an evacuation bag with enough supplies to keeping you and your family going for at least 3 days to knowing your evacuation route, Moreno says you can't be too careful or too prepared.

He also said some people may not even be aware they're working or living below a dam.

“I think the case of the Oroville Dam Spillway Emergency showed that, people who were farther downstream of the dam and evacuated, they may not have had an awareness that they needed to be prepared for such contingencies.”

Safety experts also suggest practicing the route, and at the very least doing these few basic things:

“Make sure you have a family emergency plan, where you can meet in case of an emergency, have an out-of-state contact that you can get a hold of to keep each other updated, know where to go for higher ground immediately, and recognize the signs of a potential dam failure.”

He says dams in the United States are very safe and they undergo a lot of inspection, but you never know what can happen. 

He said you should also have a plan for your pets, and touch base with your neighbors; an evacuation will be more successful if everyone looks out for each other.

National Dam Safety Awareness Day happens every year on May 31st. It commemorates the failure of the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889, when more than 2,200 people died after the dam failed.

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