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National Dam Safety Awareness Day

National Dam Safety Awareness Day Banner

National Dam Safety Awareness Day seeks to encourage and promote individual and community responsibility and best practices for dam safety, as well as what steps can be taken to prevent catastrophic dam failures. The theme for National Dam Safety Awareness Day 2024 on May 31, is, " Building Resilience: Safeguarding Our Nation's Dams and Empowering Communities."

Date: May 31, 2024

Important Date

Event Details

Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31 every year is in memoriam of the 2,220 people who lost their lives in the 1889 South Fork Dam failure near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The collapse of the South Fork Dam was a tragedy and is not an isolated incident. As we observe and reflect on the South Fork Dam tragedy 133 years later, we encourage you to understand the continued importance of dam safety, the roles various parties play, current issues, and why investment in this infrastructure is urgently needed.

Recent crises following heavy seasonal rains, like the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway in California (2017) or the failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Michigan (2020), have made major headlines, highlighting the poor condition of many of the nation's dams. Proper maintenance, routine inspection, necessary upgrades, and implementation of an Emergency Action Plan can ensure optimal conditions, protecting public health, safety, and welfare.

National Dam Safety Awareness Day not only commemorates the past, it calls us to action. Make a difference in your community and join FEMA in support of National Dam Safety Awareness Day on May 31.

Get Involved

  1. Event planning checklist – A list of things to consider when planning your local dam safety event.
  2. Key messages – A list of short talking points to help start conversations about dam safety.
  3. Template news release – A pre-approved news release with standard boilerplate language for use by local champions in promoting National Dam Safety Awareness Day. Also included is guidance for engaging members of the media.
  4. Web and social media content – Suggested content for promoting local events on your website complemented by sharing your stories and/or photos with us by using the #NDSAD hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  5. Activities for kids – FEMA has prepared a list of suggested activities for engaging children, which helps kids to be more risk-aware. It is also a good way to engage their parents and other family members.

Activity & Curriculum Ideas


Activity Sheet

Low-Head Dam Demonstration

  • This would break down low-head dam models into a step-by-step "recipe" that could be recreated in their classroom.
  • Emphasizes the importance of empowering schools to conduct their dam safety projects and highlights the scalability and ease of implementation of this concept, while making dam safety education more engaging and accessible.
  • These potential audiences include recreationists, homeless communities, kayakers, and boaters. A product could be a Low-Head Dam Pocket Guide.

Targeting Different Audiences Campaign

  • State or local: Project or grant award ceremonies, training days with media presence, and campaigns like “Love your Levee” or “Adore Your Dam.”
  • Children: A kids’ poster contest, dam-themed shirts, stickers, and other swag. Digital outreach, including Instagram filters (including an Instagram sticker set).
  • Stakeholder Campaign: “Successful Stories” showcase videos submitted of successful dam rehabilitation or removal projects.

Conference Tagline Competition

  • Tagline contests at conferences to create memorable messages that could be widely used. This competition would help bring attention to Dam Safety Awareness efforts year-round and highlight responsible floodplain management practices for levees and dams.

It’s Time to Have a Dam Conversation

  • Addressing dam owners, state/local officials, and citizens living with dams daily. 
  • There is a need to speak to dam owners, highlight the National Dam Safety Program, and provide opportunities to collaborate with organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Other Resources