That's why officials with City of Toronto Fire Services are reminding people to tread carefully around bodies of water this time of year.
Fluctuating temperatures and mixed precipitation can create dangerous conditions around lakes, creeks and ponds -- and it only takes one missed step for someone to find themselves or a loved one immersed in dangerously cold water, says Capt. Mike Strapko.
On Tuesday, police in the Georgian Bay Township near Barrie responded to a snowmobiler who died after falling through the ice and into the frigid waters.
“It's important to be vigilant, especially at this time of year. Water can rise without warning ... and we have a lot of icy conditions,” he says.
If an accident happens, Strapko says the best thing to do is call 911 immediately. Emergency personnel have the equipment and the expertise to perform a safe water rescue.
“Definitely don't go after them,” Strapko advises. “A lot of times what happens is the person who goes in with the intention of doing the rescue becomes a victim as well, so then we have to recover two people.
“I know it’s a difficult thing to hold yourself back when you’re losing a pet or loved one in freezing water, but it’s extremely dangerous.”
The risk of slips and falls around water is elevated in the springtime, but it's important to exercise caution all year round, Strapko says.
Flash floods can strike without warning -- even if it's a beautifully sunny day in the Greater Toronto Area.
“There are a number of waterways like the Humber, and the Rouge (rivers) that come through the city. If it’s raining up north, the water’s going to have to come down through Toronto into Lake Ontario,” Strapko explains.
“It might look good here, but if it’s raining up north, the water’s going to rise with very little or no warning.”
Some tips for staying safe around the water include using a buddy system, keeping pets on a retractable leash so they are in your control at all times, and staying a safe distance back from the water.
With files from Andrea Stockton