Be ice smart this winter
The Marystown branch of the Canadian Red Cross is offering a reminder to area residents again this winter, to be on your guard at all times around ice at this time of the year.
It only takes a second for what had been an enjoyable outdoor activity to turn tragic. People heading out on the ice are advised to watch and listen for changes in ice conditions.
One way to determine ice strength is to check its colour.
Clear blue ice is strongest and most safe. White opaque ice, formed when wet snow freezes, is weaker. Grey ice, indicating the presence of water, is highly unsafe and should be avoided.
The only reliable way to be certain ice is safe for people or vehicles is to cut a hole and measure thickness, which can vary with changes in temperatures and a number of other factors.
There are several basic guidelines to follow to determine if ice thickness is adequate.
- Ice 15 centimetres thick is considered safe for an individual to walk or skate.
- A thickness of 20 centimeters is necessary for activities involving a group of people.
- At least 25-centimetres is required to safely carry the weight of a snowmobile and if for some reason you must drive an automobile across a frozen body of water, ice should be 40 centimetres thick or more.
When testing ice, don’t just check one area. Ice can be frozen strongly in one location but that doesn’t mean the whole surface is safe.
A ladder or pole, which can stop a person from falling all the way through should the ice break, can be a valuable tool when testing ice.
If the ice shifts or cracks, the individual should lie down and carefully crawl, or roll back to shore.
Of course, if you are uncertain about an icecovered area, the best precaution is to avoid it altogether.
There are a number of things to do should you fall through ice.
- An individual who is alone must try to remain calm and not panic.
- Reach up on the ice as far as possible and kick your feet at the same time to bring you level with the ice. Once you’re out, never stand up – roll away from the hole instead to prevent going through again.
- It is of utmost importance to act quickly when dealing with a situation where someone else has fallen through ice. Find an item that can be used to pull the person to safety. Crawling will distribute your weight more evenly when attempting to reach the individual.
There are several ways to prevent cold-related injuries once out of the water.
Change any wet clothing if possible; keep blood flowing through the body by moving toes, stomping feet or swinging arms; stay out of the wind, and avoid alcohol.
Taking precautions before heading out on the ice can also increase your chances of survival. Always keep in mind weather changes quickly.
It’s best to dress in layers to easily add or remove clothing to match the weather. Wear a hat – more than half of the body’s heat is lost through the head. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.
Finally, always tell someone else where you plan to go and when you expect to be back.