In colder climates, water safety often involves taking precautions to avoid stepping on cracked or thin ice, especially when near semi-frozen lakes, pools, or ponds during the winter. This week, we are helping prevent folks from falling through thin ice. Additionally, we'll share some tips on identifying and escaping from such a situation.
Thin Ice: More Likely Than You Think
Above all, always remember that looks can be deceiving when it comes to ice safety. The safest way to avoid falling through thin ice is to stay as far away from it as possible. Additionally, it can be difficult to determine the thickness of ice just by looking at it.
Even if the air feels very cold, the ice may not yet be able to support the weight of a person. In these situations, it pays to be cautious. As a golden rule, never leave water safety to chance. After all, drowning is a common cause of death
for children and adults alike.
When submerged in cold water, the body's natural response is called "cold water shock
." This is a natural bodily response that causes a person to gasp for air while submerged. This accidentally forces the lungs to fill with freezing liquid instead of air. To make matters worse, cold water shock can also cause hyperventilation and loss of limb mobility.
Avoid Cracking the Ice: Think Ahead
As with all forms of water safety, knowledge is your best weapon. Ice thickness can depend on a variety of factors. It can also vary depending on your location. For activities such as skating, hockey
, or ice fishing
, the ice should be at least four inches thick.
When driving a snowmobile, you should plan for at least seven inches of thickness. If the ice is covered with snow, it's important to double those numbers. This is a little known fact, but the snow can add extra pressure to the ice beneath. It can also act as an insulator, making the ice warmer and weaker. Be extra careful when you see snow on the surface of the ice. It can be deceivingly easy to break the ice, especially along the shore and at the center of the ice where the ice is often weaker.
In addition to avoiding snow-covered ice, it's also important to stay away from cloudy ice. Clear and transparent ice is considered much safer. Without proper tools, it can be challenging to determine the exact thickness of the ice surface, but these safety guidelines can provide important considerations.
Falling Into the Water
If you do fall into the water, it's important to know how to react. As with most drowning danger, the number one step is to remain calm. Control your panic and try to lie flat on the water and kick your legs vigorously. Once you reach the surface, do not stand up. Instead, stay flat on the ice and roll your body to safety as the ice around you may still be thin.
To learn more, watch this informative video: