The Temiskaming OPP is reminding everyone of ice safety as it begins to form on water ways. The ice quality and type of ice has to be evaluated before you travel on it. Avoid slushy ice, fluctuating water levels, or ice on moving water. If the ice has thawed and re-frozen because of a sudden temperature change, it isn’t safe. The OPP says being able to swim is a small factor in ice rescue
You need to avoid slushy ice, fluctuating water levels, or ice that is on or near moving water. If ice has thawed, re-frozen, layered, or rotten which is caused by sudden temperature changes, it is not safe. Other factors that weaken ice include the age of the ice and snow that acts like a blanket as this prevents hardening and can even melt the ice. Be familiar with your lake or bay and observe for pressure ridges caused by the wind or current.
No ice is without some risk. Be sure to measure clear, hard ice in several places.
Understand that being able to swim is only a small part of an ice-related rescue.
To avoid unnecessary risks, the OPP recommends that snowmobilers stick to available, land-based OFSC trails whenever possible.
Safety tips if you are considering venturing out:
- Go with an experienced, safety-conscious guide who is familiar with local conditions. Do not travel on ice alone.
- Constantly scan the frozen terrain for signs of changing conditions.
- Loosen buckles and undo belts on any packs or equipment you are carrying or riding on so they can easily be removed. Loosen bindings on snowshoes.
- Do not drink alcohol and travel over ice covered bodies of water. Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm in cold conditions.
- Carry a map and compass or a GPS system. A changing weather front can cover a lake quickly in fog or a snowstorm and leave you disoriented on a surface with no landmarks. Make sure your GPS battery is fully charged. Carry a compass as backup and know how to use it.
- Do not travel over ice-covered water in early and late winter when conditions are more likely to be dangerous.
- Consider carrying a small personal safety kit that should include items such as a lighter, waterproof matches, a magnesium fire starter, a pocket knife, a compass and a whistle. Keep a cellular telephone in a waterproof pouch. Ice picks and a rope are also worthwhile. Carry high energy food and keep dry clothes in your vehicle.
- Most important! If in doubt, don’t go out!