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Sable Island National Park Reserve

Visitor Safety

You are responsible for your own safety. Parks Canada can help you prepare by providing you with trip planning information. Remember, a safe visit is a good visit.

Please begin with the tips below. You can contact us with any questions about conditions on the island.

When you arrive on the island, Parks Canada staff will provide you with a welcome and orientation.

Visiting a Remote Location
Travelling by Air and Sea
Severe Weather
Medicines
Wildlife
Terrain
Emergency Contact Numbers

Parks Canada is working closely with our federal partners, including Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, to ensure the safety of visitors and staff on at Sable Island National Park Reserve.

Driftwood on East Spit sand flats Driftwood on East Spit sand flats
© Parks Canada

Visiting a Remote Location

The natural environment can be hazardous if you are not prepared. This is especially true at on Sable Island which is an extremely remote location. The normal range of commercial, municipal, and medical services is not available. The nature of the environment means that hazardous conditions will frequently exist and visitors should exercise extra caution.

With the possibility of travel delays and limited medical response on the island, it is possible for minor medical concerns to become life-threatening situations.

Travelling by Air and Sea

Landing on Sable Island, either by aircraft or boat poses some hazards given the variability in landing conditions and weather.

For aircraft passengers, please follow the safety directions provided during the briefing by the pilot, and check with the air charter company for guidelines for safe travel on the aircraft.
Details about aircraft transportation to Sable Island

For visitors arriving by sea, please be aware of the hazards and safety tips associated with beach landings. 
Details about sea transportation to Sable Island 

Severe Weather

Hurricane surf conditions Hurricane surf conditions
© Parks Canada/D. Austin

Located in the North Atlantic, Sable Island can be subject to severe weather conditions. It is advised to bring a variety of clothing and equipment to be prepared for various weather conditions.

Sable Island can experience high wind conditions, and has limited shelter. In extreme wind events, please stay indoors if possible and ensure that windows and doors are securely closed and latched. If you must go outside, use exits on the down-wind side of buildings. Pay attention to dangers that exist upwind; there is usually little warning before debris on the ground or parts of buildings become airborne. If you hear flapping, or other noises suggesting something is loose and blowing in the wind, please notify island personnel. In lightning conditions, stay inside and avoid telephones and metal equipment.

Sable Island weather

Medicines

If you are taking medication you should ensure that you bring sufficient supplies for the duration of your visit, and also extra quantities in case of unplanned delays. If you, or anyone in your group, have known allergies you must provide your own medication and ensure you carry it with you at all times.

Wildlife

Horses grazing on dunes Horses grazing on dunes
© Parks Canada

All animals on Sable Island are wild animals, including the horses. Please do not feed, approach, or harass wildlife. Seals, horses, nesting birds, and sharks can all pose risks to your safety if you do not respect them as wildlife.

Information on the hazards posed by wildlife

Terrain

When you arrive on Sable Island, you can ask Parks Canada personnel about known or temporary hazards on the island. You should ensure that someone on the island knows your travel plans including departure time, route, and expected time of return. It is usually a good idea to carry a marine radio or satellite phone and develop response plans within your group or with Parks Canada personnel. See section below on Emergency Contact Numbers.

Hikers on sand beach Hiking up Bald Dune
© Parks Canada

When travelling away from the Main Station area, you should carry dry clothing in a waterproof pack. Please be aware of hazards in the terrain:
• Quicksand, salt-water slush, and ice covered water
• Flood conditions
• Uneven terrain, unstable ground, and steep slopes
• Flotsam and jetsam, litter and debris on the beach
• Shifting riverbeds and drainage rivers


Emergency Contact Numbers

In case of an emergency on the island you may be conscripted to assist Parks Canada personnel with a response.

In a first aid situation, you should advise the Operations Coordinator or other Main Station personnel immediately, and administer first aid as required and as you are able.

In case of a structural fire on the island, or upon hearing a fire alarm, there are marked muster points at the Main Station where you should gather and wait in safety until direction from the Operations Coordinator. If you detect a fire, you should sound the fire alarm and evacuate the building and contact the Operations Coordinator.

Operations Coordinator:
• Call (902) 492-4678 from a satellite phone or from the mainland
• Or use Channel 08 on Marine Radio VHF-FM

For distress call (either air or marine):
• 1 800 565 1582 (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre)

For an environmental emergency:
• 1 800 565 1633 (Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre)