Staying Safe During Severe Weather: Identifying Signs and Taking Appropriate Action
Jul 25, 2023
An image of a person holding four large pieces of hail in their hand.

Severe weather can strike unexpectedly, making it crucial to be able to recognize the signs and respond effectively. It is important that workers are able to identify different types of severe weather and find suitable shelter. By understanding weather alerts and taking appropriate precautions, individuals can stay safe when faced with adverse weather conditions.

Before engaging in outdoor activities or traveling, it is essential to check the weather forecast and be aware of any weather alerts for the day. These alerts serve as critical information for making informed decisions and preparing adequately. Here are some key types of weather alerts to be familiar with:

  • Warning: An urgent message indicating that severe weather is occurring or will occur. It is regularly updated to keep individuals informed so they can take appropriate action.
  • Watch: Indicates potential for significant storms or severe weather to develop.
  • Advisory: Issued for weather events that are less severe but could still have a significant impact.
  • Special Weather Statement: Highlights unusual conditions that may cause concern.

Some common types of severe weather we face on the Prairies include:


  • Identifying signs: Look for a funnel cloud, a loud roar, and a dark, often greenish sky.
  • Hazards: Flying debris and building damage.
  • Controls: Take immediate shelter in the lower level of a sturdy building. If caught outdoors, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area, protecting your head with your arms.


  • Identifying signs: A rise in air pressure and humidity followed by a rapid temperature drop, accompanied by falling lumps of ice.
  • Hazards: Falling hailstones at high speeds.
  • Controls: Seek shelter in a solid building and stay away from windows, glass doors, or skylights.

Strong Winds

  • Identifying signs: Howling noise and visible debris being lifted or moved.
  • Hazards: Flying debris, tree damage, and building destruction.
  • Controls: Seek shelter indoors and avoid windows.

Heavy Rain

  • Identifying signs: Long-term rainfall associated with large-scale weather systems or short-lived thunderstorms with significant downpours.
  • Hazards: Poor visibility, wet and muddy conditions, and flash flooding.
  • Controls: Seek shelter, plan an escape route to higher ground, and avoid roadway underpasses, drainage ditches, low-lying areas, and water collection zones. Avoid driving on flooded roads.


  • Identifying signs: Hot and muggy days, dark cloud formations, and hearing thunder.
  • Hazards: Ground current, side flash, contact, upward leaders, direct strike, and blunt trauma.
  • Controls: Use the 30-30 rule: count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If it’s less than 30 seconds, seek immediate cover and wait for 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.

Being prepared for severe weather is crucial to ensure personal safety and minimize potential harm. By understanding different weather alerts, identifying signs of severe weather events, and taking appropriate action, individuals can protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property from the hazards associated with adverse weather conditions. Stay informed, stay safe!

Do you need more information?  RPM can help!

Did you know that RPM registered companies can take first aid training through St. John Ambulance at a reduced rate?   RPM members can receive a 15% discount on all services provided through St. John’s Ambulance as long as they are participants in the RPM program.

Other courses that may be of interest include:

Please note RPM courses are offered to RPM registered companies only.  Your company must be registered with RPM and be in the process of working towards certification or must have achieved the SAFE Work Manitoba Trucking Certificate of Recognition.   Not yet registered in the RPM program?  Today is a great day to get started!

Please contact RPM by emailing or calling 204-632-6600, or by visiting our website

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