When you're out enjoying your favourite winter sports, make sure you don't get caught on thin ice.
At this time of year, HRM Partners in Policing want to remind people that ice conditions can vary significantly due to the fluctuating temperatures. Moving water on rivers takes even longer to freeze. People need to check ice carefully before venturing out. The most accurate way to do this is to use an ice auger and measure the thickness of the ice.
The Red Cross recommends an ice thickness of 15 centimetres (6 inches) for individual skating, 20 centimetres (8 inches) for group skating, and 25 centimetres (10 inches) for snow mobiling.
Dark blue or transparent ice is always the strongest, and white, cloudy looking ice is generally weaker. Grey ice is unsafe, as the grey colour indicates the presence of water.
A local ice thickness guide can be found on the HRM website at http://www.halifax.ca/municipalops/IceThickness.html. The guide lists the body of water, where it was checked, whether it's safe, and the date it was checked.
If you happen to fall through the ice, it is important not to panic. Flailing arms and thrashing around in icy water will only make a bad situation worse. Call for help. Do your best to get into a floating position on your stomach. Reach onto the broken ice without pushing down. Putting too much weight in one area would likely cause more ice to break. Kick with your legs to push your torso onto the broken ice, and distribute your weight by staying on your stomach and spreading your arms and legs apart. Do not stand up, as this would concentrate your weight in one area and could cause you to go through again. Crawl on your stomach toward the shore. If there are others there to help, they should do so from the shore by reaching out with a long pole, branch, piece of rope, or even jumper cables.
HRM Partners in Policing hope these safety reminders will help keep you safe as you make the most out of our Maritime winter.