Skating on thin ice
Do you know how safe your local ponds and rivers are for skating?
The temperature was slightly below freezing on Thursday, Jan. 8, and a thick layer of snow covered most of Carbonear pond.
As the sun was setting, a group of teenage boys were preparing for a late game of pond hockey, something common for kids in the area.
The boys in their winter coats and skates shoveled off a section approximately seven metres by seven metres and set up a hockey net.
After grabbing their sticks, the kids hit the ice.
With unpredictable temperatures on the Avalon Peninsula so far this year, some onlookers questioned whether the ice was thick enough to skate on.
Was it safe?
The newly formed ice wasn’t frozen three days prior, when the temperature reached double digits.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the temperature was below zero degrees Celsius, freezing much the pond. There was water on each side of the makeshift rink while the children skated.
In a previous interview with The Compass, the town’s recreation director announced a new outdoor skating rink would soon open at the Carbonear Recreation Complex on Valley Road. He explained the intent was to prevent people from skating on the pond because of potential dangers.
Many didn’t heed the warning, but there have been no reported incidents on Carbonear Pond so far this year.
But how does someone determine if the ice on a local pond or river is thick enough to skate on? What about on a snow mobile?
The Compass spoke with the Canadian Red Cross to learn about ideal ice conditions and how to know whether the ice is suitable to be on.
Many things contribute to the thickness of ice, including whether it’s fresh or salt water and the location. Some of the other factors include the depth and size, tides, water level changes and shockwaves from vehicles on the ice.
Red Cross spokesman Dan Bedell explained one thing to check to ensure the ice is safe is the depth of the ice. By digging test holes, he said, you can find out if the ice is thick enough for different activities.
The minimum recommended thickness for a single person to walk on ice is 15 centimetres. For a group, walking, skating or playing, the recommended thickness is 20 cm. Snowmobiles would require 25 cm, while for a larger vehicle, 40 cm is the recommended depth.
No test holes were visible on Carbonear Pond when visited by The Compass the next day, but more children turned out to skate.
The Red Cross also suggests it’s unwise to go out on the ice after dark.
Cloudy with a chance of cracking
Ice condition can be judged by how it looks as well. The Red Cross website states, “The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength.”
When ice is clear blue, it is seen as the strongest ice and less likely to crack.
White opaque ice, or “snow ice,” is about 50 per cent weaker than blue. It is often crystalized and has snow within it.
Finally, grey unsafe.
“The greyness indicates the presence of water,” the website said.
What to do if you fall through
There have been occasions when people fall through ice. The Red Cross gives some tips on how to get out.
Those travelling alone on the ice can still attempt to get out.
Calling for help is the first step. If you can get someone’s attention, emergency services can be contacted.
It’s best to avoid trying to climb out if you fell through due to weakening of the surrounding ice.
Floating onto your stomach and attempting to push yourself back onto the ice by kicking is the best practice, but don’t try to lift yourself out.
Once you are back on the ice, roll or crawl away from the opening, dispersing your body weight to your extremities, then head for shore.
If you see someone go through the ice, don’t put yourself in danger. Stay on shore if possible and immediately call for help.
If you have to go on to the ice, wear a personal floatation device, and ensure to test the ice in front of you as you proceed. Try and reach the person with a long pole or branch, or throw a rescue device to them, either on shore or on the ice.
If you’re on the ice, lie down when you’re close to the hole and disperse your weight to your extremities. Tell the person in the water to kick, and pull on the assisting device to help them out.
These life saving practices, among others, are taught during water safety programs. They are offered at public swimming facilities across the country, including Carbonear Swimming Pool. Weblink: http://www.redcross.ca/whatwe-do/swimming-and-water-safety/swimming,-boating-and-watersafety-tips/ice-safety
Crib and darts tournament
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 Bay Roberts located on Water Street will be having their annual cribbage and darts tournament on Jan. 24. For information about the cribbage tournament, please call Eric Mercer at 786-2981. For information about the darts tournament, call Eric Loveless at 786-9143.
Spaniard’s Bay Firettes bingo
The Spaniard’s Bay Firettes will be having a Goods Bingo on Jan. 24 at the Tilton Bingo Hall. Doors open at 1 p.m. and bingo starts at 2 p.m. All prizes valued at $20. Come bring a friend.
Old-time country and bluegrass jam
The Bay Roberts Lions Club will host an old-time country and bluegrass session on Sunday, Jan. 25. Doors will open 12:30 p.m. and the music starts at 2 p.m. Canteen services available. For more information call 786-9596.
Carbonear jam session
There will be a jam session at the Carbonear Legion, Jan. 31, starting at 4 p.m. For more info call 5963691.
The annual Flurry Festibal in New Harbour will take place Feb. 18. A further announcement will be made in the near future about all the winter fun in store for those who take part.
Crib and darts tournament
On Feb. 7 the Royal Canadian Legion Carbonear will be hosting a crib and darts tournament starting at 9 a.m. This is an all-day event and only open to members. There is a sign up sheet at our Legion for those who are interested in playing. For more info call Hubert at 5963487.
Valentine’s Day dance
There will be a Valentine’s dance Feb. 14 at the Royal Canadian Legion Carbonear starting at 9:30 p.m. Music by Midnight Blue. For more info call 596-3691.
Carbonear Legion election
There is a general meeting and election of officers at the Royal Canadian Legion Carbonear on Sunday, Feb. 15, starting at 2 p.m. Uniform dressed or appropriate attire. For more info call 596-3691.
Prom dress drive
SPLASH Centre in Harbour Grace is accepting donations of prom dresses, accessories, purses and shoes for its annual prom dress drive. To make a donation visit the centre, located in the former Harbour Grace Primary school building, or for more information, call 709-596-2400.
Museum and Gallery
The off-season schedule for the Road To Yesterday Museum and Christopher Pratt Gallery is now in effect. Wednesday afternoons 2-4 p.m. until further notice.
The Literacy NL Learn Line (1800-563-1111) can provide information on a variety of local programs and services: private volunteer tutors for adults; Adult Basic Education; extra help for your school-age child; learning English as a Second Language; family learning; GED (high school equivalency); preparation for post-secondary; workplace learning. For more on the Learn Line, visit www.literacynl.com.
This section of Carbonear Pond was cleared off and used for skating and hockey on Thusday, Jan. 8, 2015.