ASDSO Dam Safety Toolbox

Emergency Action Planning

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One of the most important aspects of Emergency Management in the context of dam safety is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

“The purpose of an EAP is to protect lives and reduce property damage”.[1] The development of an EAP includes identifying the hazard potential of a particular dam, potential failure modes, as well as performing dam break analyses to determine the resulting inundation area downstream of the dam.

“It is vital that the development of the EAP be coordinated with all entities, jurisdictions, and agencies that would be affected by an incident at the dam or that have statutory responsibilities for warning, evacuation, and post-incident actions… After the EAP has been developed, approved, and distributed, continual reviews and updates must be performed. Without periodic maintenance, the EAP will become outdated and ineffective”.[1]

“Evacuation plans should be prepared and implemented by the local jurisdiction controlling inundation areas. The assistance of local defense personnel, if available, should be required in preparation of the evacuation plan. State and local law enforcement agencies usually will be responsible for the execution of much of the plan and should be represented in the planning effort. State and local laws and ordinances may require that other state, county, and local government agencies have a role in the preparation, review, approval, or execution of the plan. Before finalization, a copy of the plan should be furnished to the dam agency or owner for information and comment”.[2]

“Evacuation plans will vary in complexity accordance with the type and degree of occupancy in the potentially affected area. The plans may include delineation of the area to be evacuated; routes to be used; traffic control measures; shelter; methods of providing emergency transportation; special procedures for the evacuation and care of people from institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prison; procedures for securing the perimeter and for interior security of the area; procedures for the lifting of the evacuation order and reentry to the area; and details indicating which organizations are responsible for specific functions and for furnishing the materials, equipment, and personnel resources required”. [2]


Learn how to be better prepared for an emergency at

Best Practices Resources

Emergency Action Planning for Dams (FEMA P-64), FEMA

Emergency Action Planning for State Regulated High-Hazard Potential Dams (FEMA P-608), FEMA

Engineering Guidelines for the Evaluation of Hydropower Projects: Chapter 6- Emergency Action Plans, FERC

Hydrologic Engineering Requirements for Reservoirs (EM 1110-2-1420), USACE


On-Demand Webinar: How to Make Your Emergency Action Plan More Effective

On-Demand Webinar: Emergency Action Plan Basics

YouTube: Emergency Action Plan Basics

Dam Owner Academy: Emergency Planning

Technical Seminar: Improving Emergency Operations for Dam and Levee Failures and Incidents


Revision ID: 7105
Revision Date: 07/11/2023