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Important Ice Safety Tips

by Shanine Sealey

Although winter is settling upon us and the cold weather sends a shiver down our spines, it is important to remember that it takes time for open water to freeze enough to be safe to walk on. The City of Martensville and the Martensville Fire Department are urging residents to ensure kids and pets remain off of the ponds as they are currently unsafe.

According to Canadian Red Cross (CRC), there are many factors that affect ice thickness including: type of water, location, time of year and other environmental factors (chemicals, fluctuations in water levels, water depth and size of body of water, currents, change in air temperature, etc.). The colour of ice can be an indicating factor into how strong it is, with clear blue ice being the strongest. White opaque, or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice and grey ice is unsafe, and indicates the presence of water. Some rough guidelines for clear ice to remember are:

– If ice is 2” or less thick – STAY OFF
– 4” thick can be used for ice skating or ice fishing
– 5”-6” can be used for snowmobiles and ATVs
– 8”-12” can hold cars and small trucks
– 12”-15” can hold medium trucks

If you are alone on ice and get into trouble, CRC recommends calling for help and resisting the urge to climb back out where you fell in as the ice is already weakened in this area. Use air that is trapped in your clothing to get into a floating position on your stomach and reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to push your torso onto the ice. Once you have made it back onto the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight and importantly, DO NOT STAND UP. Look for shore and make sure you are going in the correct direction.

If you are with others on ice, CRC reminds us how dangerous it is to rescue another person from ice, and the safest way to perform a rescue is from shore. Firstly, call for help to have trained professionals attend and handle the situation accordingly. Once help is called, see if you can reach the person with a long pole or branch from shore – if so, lie down and extend the pole to the person. If you do go onto the ice, ensure you are wearing a personal floatation device and carry a long pole or branch with you to test the ice in front of you. Bring something to reach or throw to the person. When near the break, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl towards the hole. Remaining low, extend or throw your emergency rescue device to the person and have the person kick while you pull them out. Once out, move them to a safe position on shore, or where you are sure the ice is thick and signal for help.

Watch for updates from the City of Martensville and the Martensville Fire Department regarding the safety of the ice in city limits and above all, be safe Martensville!

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