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Mild weather and unstable ice

Ice is increasingly unstable across the province
Ice is increasingly unstable across the province

Cheryl Santa Maria, Staff writer

March 20, 2012 — It may feel like summer in many parts of Ontario - but local lakes and ponds are still well below freezing.

Constable Fry says it's important to remain calm when immersed in freezing water
Constable Fry says it's important to remain calm when immersed in freezing water

Ontario's recent mild temperatures have all but melted away the ice - and what's left of it is becoming increasingly unstable.

Earlier this month, dozens of fishermen had to be rescued off of Lake Simcoe when the block of ice they were standing on became dislodged.

Inconsistent ice has also created treacherous conditions in the north bay area, where a snow-shoer fell through a local pond in February.

Yesterday, members of the Barrie Police Service plunged into the frigid waters of the Kempenfelt Bay for a round of cold water rescue training.

"The warm weather is here and people are getting excited about getting their boats in the water ... however the water is a very dangerous place right now," says Constable Jason Fry.

Hypothermia can set in quickly in freezing conditions, but there are ways to help minimize exposure.

"The first thing that happens from immersion in cold water is a feeling of shock," Constable Fry explains, "and most people have trouble catching their breath."

People wearing flotation devices should pull their limbs close to their body, which will help keep heat in the core.

Constable Fry says people should try to remain calm, regulate breathing and - most importantly - keep their head above the water.

But the best preventative measure would be to avoid the water and unstable ice until the conditions improve later in the season.

"It's an extremely difficult time of year," Constable Fry says.

"If somebody finds themselves in the water right now, they're going to require a rescue."

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