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Ice Safety Education - Ice Smart Tips

Winter activities such as ice skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling often involve walking, playing or driving on ice. Activities on ice can be dangerous because ice is constantly changing in response to weather and water conditions, making it unsafe even when you’ve tested its thickness. One out of 12 Canadians who drown each year fall through the ice.

The Lifesaving Society of BC & Yukon recommends avoiding frozen bodies of water, no matter the thickness of the ice. If you choose to play on ice, remember the following Ice safety tips:

  • Check the weather.
    Avoid ice-related activities on warm or stormy days.
  • Check ice conditions with knowledgeable local individuals (for example, resort owners, police or members of snowmobile clubs).
    The Lifesaving Society recommends a minimum ice thickness of 10 cm (4 inches) for a single person to walk, ice fish, or cross-country ski on it. Remember, though, that this recommendation is for new, clear ice under ideal conditions.
  • Avoid vehicle travel on ice whenever possible, especially if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
    Remember that even one drink can dull your senses, slow your reaction time and impair your judgement. If you do drive on ice ensure that your windows are rolled down, doors are unlocked, seat belts are unfastened and lights are turned on, as these precautions will allow for a quicker escape from your vehicle if it should go through the ice.
  • Keep away from unfamiliar paths or unknown ice and avoid travelling on ice at night.
  • Never go onto the ice alone.
    A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty.
  • Before you leave shore, inform someone of your destination and expected time of return.
  • Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit to increase your chances of survival if you do go through the ice.
    If you don’t have one, wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) over an ordinary snowmobile suit or layered winter clothing.
  • Assemble a small personal safety kit, no larger than the size of a wallet, and carry it on your person.
    The kit should include a lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, pocketknife, compass and whistle.
  • Carry ice picks, an ice staff and a rope.
    A cellular phone could also help save your life.
  • If children do play on ice, insist that they wear a lifejacket/PFD or thermal protection buoyant suit.
    They should always be with a buddy and under adult supervision. Children that aren’t “within arms’ reach” have ventured too far.
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