Some of the most fun and traditional Canadian winter activities involve ice. Activities such as pond hockey, ice fishing and snowmobiling can be great fun, but also very dangerous. The Durham Regional Police Service would like to advise residents to be cautious around bodies of water as the mix of frigid and mild winter temperatures across the region can make icy surfaces unstable.
To help ensure your safety, please review the following tips:
Be aware of the colour of the ice as it can indicate the strength. If it is clear blue it is the strongest ice. Opaque ice is the second strongest ice as it is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice. If you see grey ice, it is not safe. The grey shows that water is present. To take extra precaution, check with local authorities before going out on the ice.
Alone on Ice
If you find yourself alone on ice that is not safe, first call for help. Try not to climb out of the water where you fell in because the ice is weak there. Float on your stomach and grab a stronger piece of ice to pull yourself onto. Use your legs to push yourself up. When you are on the ice, roll away from the opening and keep your legs and arms spread out to keep your weight evenly distributed. Do not stand up!
With Others on Ice
If you find yourself having to rescue another person, try to do it from the shore. Call for help and contact emergency services like police, fire or EMS. Try to reach the person with a pole or a branch. It may help to lie on your stomach. Wear a lifejacket. Have the person kick while you pull them onto the ice.
To keep your ice adventures safe and memorable:
▪ Check thickness of the ice. Ice should be 15 cm (6 inches) for walking and skating, 20 cm (8 inches) for parties and games, and 25 cm (10 inches) for snowmobiling
▪ Check recent weather reports before going on the ice to make sure there hasn’t been a recent thaw
▪ Wear padding, helmets and other protective gear for skating and hockey
▪ Tie skates tightly to avoid ankle injuries
▪ Large waterways can be unpredictable so use extra discretion when participating in activities on Lake Ontario, Lake Scugog and Lake Simcoe
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