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Ontario police warn public to stay off ice


Staff writers
January 11, 2013 — With mild weather expected in southern Ontario this weekend, police say any ice that has formed will no doubt become very weak and dangerous.


Mild temperatures have resulted in weak and dangerous ice conditions
Mild temperatures have resulted in weak and dangerous ice conditions

Overall, it's been a pretty mild start to winter across parts of Ontario. 

Much of southern Ontario and Quebec embraced a warmer December than usual with the average monthly temperature a couple of degrees above normal. 

Now, a system pushing in from the U.S. is set to bring more warm air into southern Ontario over the weekend

Temperatures may even climb into the low double digits by Saturday, which could help to set new daytime high records.

That's great news for those already counting down to spring, but most ice fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts are left feeling frustrated.

Outdoor enthusiasts being asked to stay off what may appear to be frozen surfaces
Outdoor enthusiasts being asked to stay off what may appear to be frozen surfaces

Especially since provincial police are warning residents to stay off any ice surfaces as the warmer weather and rain will lead to weak and compromised conditions.

According to Sergeant Ross Lindsay with the Toronto Police Marine Unit, there's a general “1, 10, 1 rule” when it comes to dangerous ice conditions.

“What happens if the ice cracks and you fall into the water is you've got one minute to get your breathing under control, ten minutes for meaningful self rescue to get yourself out and call for help and then about one hour before hypothermia sets in.” 

The Canadian Red Cross offers these tips for determining the strength of the ice based on colour:

  • Clear blue ice is strongest. 
  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice. 
  • Grey ice is unsafe. The greyness indicates the presence of water.

Using a buddy system, keeping pets on a retractable leash so they are in your control at all times, and staying a good distance back are ways to stay safe around unstable ice.

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