Dam and Levee Resources

Dam Safety Warning Signs Best Practices

September 2021

FEMA’s Dam Safety Warning Signs Best Practices is a compilation of existing leading practices from industry leaders including the United States Society on Dams (USSD), Association of State Dam Safety (ASDSO), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Federal Highway Administration (FHA), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Canadian Dam Association (CDA), American International Standards Institute (ANSI) and more.

These best practices outline the process for identifying the need for safety signage, designing and implementing the signs and continually monitoring and assessing their effectiveness. This document encourages the use of proven and researched safety signage practices from industry leaders to promote stronger public safety practices around dams and reduce the loss of life.  While readers are encouraged to contact the authority responsible for the dam, in the absence of any standards, this document can be used by any dam owner, operator, regulatory agency or member of the general public who is interested in increasing public safety around dams through the use of safety signage.

Download the Dam Safety Warning Signs Best Practices click here.

Also link to the fema_dam-warning-signs-Fact Sheet


National Dam Safety Program Publications

variety of publications to include federal guidelines, technical manuals and fact sheets.

  • Federal Guidelines for Emergency Action Planning for Dams (FEMA P-1025) (2015). This document provides guidelines for implementing risk-informed decision making in a dam safety program. The intended audience is Federal agencies that own or regulate dams. The guidelines could also be applied to non-federally owned or regulated dams that can impact federally owned or regulated facilities; however, this would require the cooperation and involvement of the non-Federal dam owner. https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/101958.

  • Selecting Analytic Tools for Concrete Dams Address Key Events Along Potential Failure Mode Paths   (FEMA P-1016).  (2014). The purpose of this document is to stress the importance of understanding the sequences of events leading to failure of concrete dams and selecting analysis methods that address these specific events.  The selected analysis method may range from straightforward to complex, depending on the potential failure mode being analyzed. It is stressed that a less complex analysis with less uncertainty is the preferred strategy. Included in this report and the appendices are examples of this process. These examples are not intended to be a complete listing of concrete dam potential failure modes. Each dam is unique and has its own issues; therefore, it is important for the engineer to understand the potential failure modes and sequences of events that enable them.  https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/101840.

  • Federal Guidelines for Inundation Mapping of Flood Risks Associated with Dam Incidents and Failures (March 2014)  The purpose of this document is to provide dam safety professionals with guidance on how to prepare dam breach inundation modeling studies and conduct mapping that can be used for multiple purposes, including dam safety, hazard mitigation, consequence evaluation, and emergency management including developing EAPs. This guidance is intended to provide a consistent approach that can be applied across the country.  http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34193.

  • National Dam Safety Program Strategic Plan (FEMA-P-916) (2013. 24 pp.). This strategic plan, which covers fiscal years 2012 through 2016, presents the goals and objectives established by FEMA and its partners in the National Dam Safety Program to reduce the hazards from dam failures and demonstrate the benefits of dams in the United States.  https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34179

  • Living With Dams: Know Your Risks is a FEMA booklet designed to help answer questions about dams: what purposes they serve, associated risks, guidance for those living near dams, and where to find further information.  You can also download it from the FEMA Library:  https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/28161.

  • Emergency Action Planning for Dam Owners Emergency Action Planning for Dam Owners (FEMA 64). (2013) Guidelines to encourage strict safety standards in the practices and procedures employed by federal agencies or required of dam owners regulated by the federal agencies. Guidelines to encourage emergency action planning for dams to help save lives and reduce property damage.

  • Dam Safety: Selecting and Accommodating Inflow Design Floods for Dams (August 2013). Link to Selecting+and+Accommodating+Inflow+Design+Floods+for+Dams,.  These guidelines provide thorough and consistent procedures for selecting and accommodating inflow design floods (IDFs), the flood flow above which the incremental increase in water surface elevation downstream due to the failure of a dam or other water retaining structure no longer presents an unacceptable additional downstream threat.

Levee Publications and Resources

Link to read about levees and risk and so that you can easily print.

Living With Levees

To help understand the realities of levee risk, FEMA provides community outreach tools and construction guidelines related to levee risk.

High Water Mark Initiative

The High Water Mark Initiative is a community-based awareness program that increases local communities’ awareness of flood risk and encourages action to mitigate that risk.


Use FEMA’s tools and templates to better understand the relationship between levees, flood risks and insurance.