The daily sub-zero temperatures in Burns Lake are seeing local lakes freeze up. As the urge grows to go skating, ice-fishing and snowmobiling on the lakes residents should be wary of ice thickness.
The consequences of being out on thin ice can be fatal. Around 200 people per year die in Canada from cold water immersion, including deaths related to activities on ice, according to the Canadian Red Cross. More than half of them take place during recreational activities.
A recent social media post by non-profit Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC advises that ice thickness should always be checked first.
Ice of two inches or less is unsafe and people should not attempt to walk on it unless it’s at least four inches thick.
Snowmobiling is safe on ice five to six inches thick.
Taking a group for skating or walking is safe when the ice is eight to 12 inches thick.
And driving a vehicle on frozen lakes is fine if the ice is at least 12-15 inches thick.
The fisheries group also advises that people always notify others before they venture out on the ice, and to go ice fishing with a buddy.
But how to know the thickness of the ice? The Red Cross suggests colour as an indication of its strength.
Clear, blue ice is the strongest. White, opaque ice is half as strong, and grey is unsafe as it shows there is water.
If things go wrong out on the ice, first call for help. If you fall through, don’t climb out where you fell in because the ice is weak there.
Try to reach forward onto the broken ice and don’t push down, while kicking your legs to push your body onto the ice.
Once back on solid ice, don’t stand up. Crawl on your stomach or roll away from the broken spot and extend your arms and legs out as much as possible to evenly spread your weight.
Keep your eyes on the shore to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.
If you see someone in danger on ice call for help. If possible, try to reach the person with a long pole or a branch and lie down and hold it out to the person.
If you walk onto the ice wear a life preserver and carry the pole or branch to test the ice ahead. Also bring a pole, rope or tree branch you can throw to the person.
As you near the ice hole, lie down and slowly crawl towards it, and throw the branch, pole or rope to the person.
Urge the person to kick as you as you pull him or her out.