Winter Water Safety: Don’t Break the Ice

Winter Water Safety: Don’t Break the Ice
In colder climates, water safety often means doing your best to avoid stepping on thin or cracked ice. When playing near semi-frozen lakes, pools and ponds this winter, you’ll want to be absolutely sure that you don’t break the ice.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss the proper ways to avoid falling through the ice, as well as what to look for and how to escape.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

First, you won’t break the ice if you stick to the shore! Being as far away from the hazard as possible is always the safest way to avoid a potential catastrophe.

Besides, it can be rather tough to gauge how thick the ice is just by eyeballing it. No matter how cold the air feels, the ice might not be ready to withstand weight yet. It could still be forming. You should never leave water safety to chance. As we often highlight on this blog, drowning is an all-too-common cause of death for children under the age of four. Obviously, that warning goes for adults as well. No matter what, you should always remember that there is a risk that you or your loved ones could accidentally break the ice.

Once suddenly submerged in frigid water, the human body will often succumb to cold water shock. This natural response causes a person to automatically gasp for a breath of oxygen. Being underwater, they will accidentally breathe in freezing cold liquid rather than air.

Additionally, cold water shock may cause hyperventilating and a loss of limb mobility, which can panic the victim and make the situation even more dangerous.

Saving Yourself from Falling Through the Ice

If the worst happens and you break the ice, you’ll want to know how to react. Above all, try to keep calm. Even though cold water shock is a serious danger, it can be overcome if you know what to do. Control your panic as best as possible and force your body to become horizontal. When you are in position, kick your legs furiously.

Once you reach the surface, don’t simply stand up. Assume that the ice is still quite thin around you. Instead, remain flat on the ice and roll your body to safety.

To learn more, watch this informative video from ABC News:


Don’t Break the Ice: Think Ahead

Being educated is crucial for all forms of water safety. In this case, ice thickness isn’t simply the result of colder weather. It actually depends on a variety of factors that may vary from place-to-place.

In a nutshell, the thickness you’ll require will vary from activity to activity. For people looking to skate, play hockey or go ice fishing, you’ll want the ice to be at least four inches thick. If you’re driving a snowmobile, at least seven inches are required.

If the ice is covered by snow, double those numbers! Snow may be cold, but it’s also heavy and can apply extra pressure to the ice beneath it. Additionally, snow can act as an insulator, actually making the ice warmer and weaker. When you see snow on the surface area, it’s time to be extra cautious. It may be deceptively easy to break the ice. That’s also true along the shore and at the center of the ice. Developing ice is often weakest at these locations.

Besides avoiding snow-covered ice, everyone should avoid venturing out onto cloudy ice. Clear, transparent ice is a much safer bet.

As mentioned earlier, without tools it can be difficult to gauge exactly how thick the surface is. However, the safety guidelines should provide critical food for thought.