Living near a UXO site

If you live near land or a body of water that was once used for military purposes, it could contain Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO). If you know that there is potential for UXO in your immediate area, there are safety precautions you should take.

On land

There are hundreds of former military sites across Canada. Many of them were used decades ago and were located in very remote areas. As the population has grown, the possibility of people living on or near these sites is now much greater.

Most legacy sites have been cleared of potential UXO before being sold or returned to its custodian. However, there may still be UXO present on or beneath the surface of these sites.

Freeze-thaw cycles, flooding or storms could uncover UXO in areas that were previously cleared. Just because no one has seen UXO in an area for many years does not mean that it isn’t there now.


UXO can also be found underwater. If you are boating, swimming or engaging in other water-based activities on a legacy site, you may encounter UXO. If you live in an area that may contain UXO, it is important that you are familiar with what UXO looks like.

Recognizing underwater UXO sites

Land or water may contain UXO if there are:

  • reports in the media about the potential for UXO
  • former or active military bases or training grounds in the area
  • warning signs (however no sign does not mean no danger)
  • reports of previous UXO-related work or incidents
  • discarded boxes or containers that may have contained munitions
  • metal fins or other oddly shaped pieces of metal pieces present
  • circular depressions in the ground (old explosion craters) when combined with any of the above indicators

Advice for individuals

If you are engaging in recreational activities on or near a UXO site, you should:

  • stay away from areas that have UXO warning signs or are not open to the public
  • stay on marked trails
  • avoid restricted waterways indicated on charts or marked with buoys
  • pay attention to warnings about shipwrecks when diving
  • never enter the area at night 

If you encounter something that could be UXO on land, underwater, close to a river, near a lake or on a beach by the coast:

1. Don't touch it!
If disturbed, UXO can explode, causing death or injury.

2. Note the location and leave the area
Remember where you saw the object. Go back the same way you came.

3. Call 9-1-1 or local police
If you are on or near an inland body of water call 9-1-1 or the local police. If you are at sea, contact the Coast Guard.

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