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Ice conditions unsafe in parts of Ontario


Several people have already fallen through the ice
Several people have already fallen through the ice

Staff writers

January 5, 2012 — Ice conditions in parts of Ontario are considered unsafe. Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) asking residents to stay off.

Ice conditions may appear safe, but police say to stay off
Ice conditions may appear safe, but police say to stay off

Police in North Bay say several people have already gone through the ice on lakes in the region.

Fluctuating temperatures have prevented the ice from thickening completely, creating unsafe conditions in some areas.

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.”

When temperatures fall below -10°C, the threat for frostbite and hypothermia increases.

Ice thickness should be 20-30 cm before playing games like hockey
Ice thickness should be 20-30 cm before playing games like hockey

Officials say if you plan to venture out, ice thickness should be 15 cm for walking or skating alone, 20 cm for skating parties or games and over 25 cm for snowmobiles.

If there are any concerns about the ice conditions, the OPP suggest avoiding the unnecessary risk. If an accident does occur however, the best thing to do is call 911 immediately. Emergency personnel have the equipment and the expertise to perform a safe water rescue.

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.

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 grayness indicates the presence of water.

With files from The Canadian Press

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