What to do when nature unleashes her fury

1. Tornadoes

The scenario:

When Oklahoma anglers Bernie Jackson, Stan Hollis and Dennis Kincaid ventured to the Fishing Cove Resort on northern Ontario’s Lac Seul last July, a twister was probably the last thing on their minds-until an F2 tornado touched down on their cabin, killing all three men.

What to do:

If possible, get to a basement or low-lying building. If you’re outdoors, look for a ditch or low spot to get out of the way of the tornado’s most dangerous element-flying debris. Don’t hide out in a vehicle, because a strong tornado can easily toss a car around.

2. Landslides

The scenario:

You’re fishing a stream in a deep valley when it starts to rain, hard. You keep casting but suddenly notice the colour of the water turn from dark blue to brown in a matter of seconds. You hear a faint rumbling that increases in volume, then look up to see mud sliding down the valley slope.

What to do:

Run! Get to the closest high ground away from the direction of the landslide. If it’s too late for that, get behind something large that will ideally shield you from rocks or debris. If that’s not possible, curl up into a ball and use your arms to protect your neck and head.

3. Flash floods

The scenario:

You’re camped out on the edge of an almost dry riverbed when the water suddenly starts to rise, breaching the bank and threatening to sweep your tent downstream.

What to do:

As with a landslide, you need to get to higher ground as soon as possible. Flash floods happen in, well, a flash, so you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings. If you do get washed away, point your feet downstream so you can see upcoming obstacles. Try to steer yourself toward shore and grab onto something solid to pull yourself out.

4. Forest fires

The scenario:

You’re paddling back to camp with a canoe full of meat after field dressing your moose a few klicks downstream. You notice an orange tint in the sky and the faint smell of smoke. Sure enough, the radio reports that a forest fire is raging just upstream.

What to do:

Get back in your canoe right away and head downstream. The fire might still be far away, but it can be on top of you in a surprisingly short amount of time. If it’s close enough for you to see flames, don’t even worry about taking your gear—just get out of there. That stuff is replaceable; your life isn’t.

5. Sudden storms

The scenario:

Last summer, Jesse Morrison and Dan Bissoo were trolling Georgian Bay in a rented aluminum when the weather turned bad, seemingly in an instant. Their boat was soon swamped and they had to be rescued by the coast guard, narrowly averting disaster.

What to do:

Keep your eye on the weather at all times and watch for the telltale signs of low-pressure fronts moving in, such as dark thunderheads; if you see lightning, head directly for shore. Before heading out, ensure your boat has all necessary safety equipment, including a radio tuned to the marine forecast.

6. Blizzards

The scenario:

You and a friend are driving home from the cabin after a weekend rabbit hunt when snow starts to fall, heavily. Soon it’s a complete whiteout, and you lose control on the slippery, isolated road and crash into the ditch.

What to do:

Stay with the vehicle and wait for help rather than venture out and risk getting lost. Turn on the hazard lights and run the engine about 10 minutes every hour to keep the inside warm. Ideally, you’ve left your itinerary with others, so they’ll eventually come looking for you. Once the blizzard passes, you can start looking for help.

7. Avalanches

The scenario:

You’re hiking up a snowy mountain slope to scout for game when you come to a sketchy-looking crest. Suddenly, the snow starts giving way beneath your feet.

What to do:

You may be able to jump upslope before you get swept away. If that’s not possible, try to get to either side of the avalanche, where the snow moves slower. Stay upright as long as you can. If you fall, try to get a hold of something and maybe the snow will pass over you. If you’re swept away, swim like a madman to stay near the surface.