Be ice smart this win­ter

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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