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PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY Best Available Refuge Area

Alberta averages eight tornados a year during the summer months and high winds can occur at any time of the year. There is often little warning (15 minutes or less) of a tornado and while we may get advance warning of high winds, it is still important to remain informed about weather conditions. 

It is important to know where the safer shelter areas are in any building if there is a tornado or high wind situation. 

Find your Best Available Refuge Area

Some buildings may have designated shelter areas, often called a Best Available Refuge Area (BARA).

If your building does not have an identified BARA, you can undertake a visual assessment in your building to identify safer areas in which to shelter. The assessment process is simple and is based on well-accepted criteria. You can complete your own assessment using the Best Available Refuge Area Assessment. There are instructions on how to complete the assessment here.

Once a BARA is designated, you can download signage or create your own to identify the BARA location. 

*Example of BARA signage

Sheltering in a BARA is not a guarantee of safety in a tornado or high wind event. However, most buildings will have areas that are safer than others in which to shelter during high winds or a tornado event.

Not all buildings are appropriate locations in which to shelter. Relocatable buildings, such as ATCO trailers, or those without a foundation are not suitable for sheltering. 

If you are outside or in your vehicle when you hear or see a tornado:

  • If possible, your best option is to get indoors as soon as soon as you can.
  • If there is no indoor shelter available, get out of your vehicle and find a low spot, such as a ditch and lay in it. Cover your head with your arms and hands and wait for the danger to pass.
  • Avoid standing under trees (as they are subject to lightning strikes).
  • Do not take shelter in underpasses.

Learn more about tornado and windstorm safety.

Be prepared and stay connected