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Ice Safety

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No ice is safe ice 

When winter comes around, many in our region can't wait to skate, fish or drive a snowmobile on local frozen waterways. Unfortunately, police respond to many emergencies each year after citizens have fallen through the ice.

Some of those emergencies have tragic consequences.

Before taking part in these activities, you should know the risks. If you are heading out on the ice, follow these tips to keep yourself safe:

Understand ice conditions

  • Know the condition of the ice before you go out. Be sure to consider recent changes in weather that may have had an impact on the ice.
  • Be suspicious of gray, dark or porous spots in the ice as these may be soft areas. Ice is generally strongest where it is hard and blue
  • Snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. The white, opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice and makes for a weaker surface.
  • Watch for pressure cracks, open bodies of water and ice flows as these are sure signs ice is not safe and should be avoided.

Be prepared

  • Before heading out on the ice, share your plans with someone else. Tell them where you will be, with whom and what time you are expected back at shore.
  • Wear the appropriate clothing and equipment, including a certified flotation device.
  • Ensure you have a cellphone with a fully charged battery in the event of an emergency. Store the cellphone in a waterproof bag.

If you are trapped, or fall into the water

  • Call for help right away. Consider whether you can quickly get help from first responders or bystanders.
  • Resist the immediate urge to climb back out of the water where you fell in, as the ice will be weak in this area.
  • Use the air trapped in your clothing to get into a floating position on your stomach.
  • Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to push your torso on the ice.
  • When you are back on the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight. Do not stand up. Look for shore and make sure you are going in the right direction.

Officers in orange jackets walk across a frozen waterway