This paper introduces the basic information of dam failures in China and analyzes representative major dam failure events in different eras. Systematic statistic analysis has been carried out for 3558 dams that failed in history ever since dam failure record was first available in 1954, as well as the life loss data, according to the era, dam scale, dam type, dam height, season, construction and operation period, and geographic region. It reveales the spatiotemporal distribution characteristics and social attributes of dam failures and their loss of lives, summarizes and analyzes the main reasons of dam failures. Based on the statistical analysis, dam failure lessons have been summed up, and countermeasures to prevent dam failure have been proposed. The results of this paper have reference significance for further improving the prevention and control system of reservoir dam failure in China and strictly preventing dam failure accidents.