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Beware of waterways as snow melts

Ice becomes unstable as the temperatures rise
Ice becomes unstable as the temperatures rise

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 8, 2011 — Mild temperatures and heavy rain in southern Ontario have Conservation Authorities keeping a close eye on water levels.

River currents get much stronger as water levels begin rising
River currents get much stronger as water levels begin rising

Signs of spring are popping up in parts of Ontario. And while milder and wet weather might have some people anxious for the new season to begin, it's posing safety concerns as well.

Authorities are warning parents to keep their children and pets away from any waterways and frozen bodies of water as the temperatures rise. Ice conditions change rapidly and may become extremely dangerous and unsafe for outdoor enthusiasts.

“We have a general rule about water and it's a one, ten, one rule,” says Sergeant Ross Lindsay with the Toronto Police Marine Unit. “What happens if the ice melts 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,” explains Lindsay.

River levels are set to rise as the snowpack melts and the amount of ice movement and break-up is dependent on the amount of runoff that occurs.

As runoff water from melting snow and rain flows into the waterways, both the speed of the flow and water levels increase. This can create a dangerous situation for anyone who gets too close to the verges of the watercourses as water levels can increase suddenly and without warning.

Earlier this month, an eight year old girl was swept away by a fast moving creek near her home in Melbourne. She was playing on the ice with a group of friends when she fell into the water.

To stay updated on the conditions in your area, head to our Ontario Cities Index.You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV as the Local Forecast comes up at the top and bottom of each hour.

With files from Matt Casey

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