Photo courtesy of: Andrea Photography
Your safety is important to us, and we want your visit to our parks to be filled with wonderful memories with family and friends. You can do your part by getting informed and being prepared. Plan your activity and share that information with a friend or family before you begin. Here are a few apps and links that will help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable trip. Always check with the park you are planning to visit for the very latest in alerts and events.
Severe Weather in Provincial Parks
Watch the Skies
Severe weather conditions often develop during our summers. Thunder, lightning, hail and even tornadoes can develop quickly and have the potential to be extremely dangerous. During severe weather, assistance from emergency personnel will vary depending on the location. Weather conditions and the number of park visitors will also affect emergency response times. That is why it’s important that you protect yourself when severe weather threatens. The following information will help ensure your personal safety.
Look for the signs
Hot and/or muggy days and warm nights indicate that thunderstorms may be forming, so be prepared. Always keep your eye on the sky and watch for the possible development of thunderstorms.
Listen for the warnings
Environment Canada monitors the weather. If a severe storm is on the horizon, the weather service issues watches, advisories and warnings through national, regional and local radio and television stations and Environment Canada’s Weatheradio. Weather Watch – conditions are favourable for a severe storm, even though one has not developed. This is usually issued early in the day. Keep monitoring weather conditions and listen for updated statements. Weather Warning – severe weather is happening or hazardous weather is highly probable.
Pack a “72 Hour” emergency kit. Your kit should include food, clothing, blankets, medication, bottled water, first aid and tool kits, as well as flashlights and a battery-powered radio, with extra batteries for both. You should have enough supplies in your kit to last 72 hours.
- Always check the weather forecast before you go boating.
- Never go out in a boat during a storm
- If you are on the water and you see a storm approaching, head for shore immediately.
Thunderstorms are common on the prairies. They are often accompanied by hail, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and occasionally, tornadoes.
Lightning – No aspect of severe summer weather presents more of a danger than lightning. To estimate how far away lightning is, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap. If you count fewer than 30 seconds, take shelter. Remain sheltered for 30 minutes after hearing the last thunderclap. If you are far from shelter and you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to hit you. Squat on the ground immediately, with feet together; place your hands on your knees and bend forward. Don’t lie flat. If your group is in an open space, spread out, keeping people several yards apart.
If you are camping in a tent, it is important to remember that tents offer no protection from lightning. If you have time, run to your car, get inside, roll up the windows and do not touch anything metal. If your car is parked near trees, move it to an open space. If a cabin or a camper is available, get inside but don’t touch any electrical appliances, as lightning may travel through these objects. If you cannot get to a car or a cabin, leave your tent and squat down away from any trees with only your feet touching the ground. Do not seek shelter under tall trees as this will significantly increase your risk of being struck by lightning.
These devastating wind storms form suddenly, are often preceded by warm, humid weather and are always produced by thunderstorms. Do not follow tornadoes in your car or attempt to take photographs of them. If you see a tornado, take shelter immediately.
Tornado warning signs include the following:
- An extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds.
- A rumbling or whistling sound.
- A funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.
- Take shelter – Cabins offer little or no protection from tornadoes. Leave your RV, tent, cabin or campsite immediately. Take shelter in a sturdy building and if there are no buildings nearby, lie down in a low area, covering your head and the back of your neck.
- Do not try to outrun the storm. If you can, wrap some clothing or a blanket around your body, as even small objects can cause serious damage when propelled by tornado winds. Do not take shelter under your trailer, in your vehicle, near big trees, or under highway bridges and overpasses.
REMEMBER, severe weather is unpredictable and most often strikes without warning.
To assist emergency personnel, remember to:
- Listen to and obey all staff instructions.
- Stay calm and be patient.
- Take only essential personal items (identification, cash, keys, medication, personal/baby care products, first aid/emergency kit) and pets.
After Severe Weather
Be prepared to ensure your own safety. Emergency Personnel may not be able to get to your area immediately. Administer emergency care to injured family and friends. If additional care is required please try to contact 911 or the local park office for assistance.
- Stay away from power lines and puddles that have electrical wires in them.
- Watch for broken glass, nails and other sharp objects.
- Stay out of any heavily damaged buildings as they could collapse at any time.
- Use flashlights rather than matches or lighters, in case there are leaking propane pipes or fuel tanks nearby.
- When phone lines are available for public use, call your family’s emergency contacts to let them know what happened, that you are safe and how to contact you.
Download - printable version of this information
WeatherCAN:Receive weather alert notifications in your area, as well as in your saved locations, wherever you are in Canada. Get your latest forecast information directly from Canada’s official weather source. or see Local Weather and Warning
Alert Ready: You may also receive an alert on your device from Canada’s national emergency alert system.
Get Prepared: Knowing what to do is an important part of being prepared. Find out about risks in your region and how to prepare for different situations.
Highway Hotline: Winter or summer get information on highway conditions, road closures, constructions zones, ferries and border crossings. Maps and information are updated 3 times per day or as conditions require.
Fire Restrictions / Bans: Occasionally due to extreme fire hazards, the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport will issue restrictions on open fires in provincial parks and recreation sites.
AdventureSmart: For other general information, hints and tips related to how to prepare for a wide range of outdoor activities.
Parks Canada's National App: With features to make your trip planning and site visit even better. It has a Learn-to Camp section, with all the information you need to plan and enjoy your first camping trip complete you can also find it here.