Ice Dangers, be aware!

Public warned of danger of going onto ice after death of 11-year-old boy who fell in pond

 Toronto Star — December 21, 2020

Stay away from the banks of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers during the spring thaw. Beware of quick thaws that can weaken the ice surface.

Many factors affect ice thickness including:

  • Type of water
  • Location
  • Time of year
  • Water depth and size of body of water
  • Currents, tides and other moving water
  • Chemicals including salt
  • Fluctuations in water levels
  • Logs, rocks and docks absorbing heat from the sun
  • Changing air temperature
  • Shock waves from vehicles travelling on the ice

Ice colour

The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength.

  • Clear blue ice is strongest.
  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice.
  • Grey ice is unsafe as it indicates the presence of water.

Ice thickness should be:

  • 15 cm (6 inches) for walking or skating alone.
  • 20 cm (8 inches) for skating parties or games.
  • 25 cm (10 inches) for snowmobiles.

Source: Parachute Canada 2021

Canadian safe boating council (CSBC) – COLD WATER AWARENESS VIDEOS

The CSBC has a series of Cold Water Awareness videos with tips on how to prepare for and survive in cold water, including the important 1-10-1 principle. Visit for these and other important water safety campaigns.


Thin ice is responsible for many fatalities each year. Hypothermia, which is a decrease in body temperature, kills people in cold water by reducing their ability to swim or stay afloat. A person who has fallen through the ice can eventually die of cardiac arrest if he or she is not rescued or rewarmed.

Although most victims who fall through the ice are men, it is important that safety tips are practiced by all.

Safety Tips:

  1. Always check ice thickness before venturing out. Snowmobiles require at least five inches of clear solid ice and autos at least eight inches to a foot of clear solid ice.
  2. Be suspicious. You cannot tell the strength of the ice by its appearance. Temperature, thickness, snow cover, water depth, size of water body, currents and distribution of the load on top of the ice are all factors affecting ice safety.
  3. Before you head onto any ice, check with a local bait shop operator or resort owner for known ice conditions, thin ice areas or dangerous open water conditions.

What to do if you break through the ice?

  1. Don’t panic – the clothes you’re wearing will trap air and keep you buoyant.
  2. Turn toward the direction you came from and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface.
  3. Kick your feet and try to push yourself forward on top of the unbroken ice on your stomach like a seal.
  4. Once you are lying on the ice, don’t stand up. Roll away from the break until you’re on solid ice.

Source: Royal Life Saving Society of Canada 2021

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