Tuesday, February 02, 2021 - 9:15 AM

Don’t Get Caught on Thin Ice

If you plan to venture out onto ice this winter, it is critical to be prepared.

With our relatively mild and wet winters, no body of water in eastern Newfoundland is completely safe to travel on during winter. Always check the forecast before heading out and never travel on ice alone or at night. Before venturing onto ice, check the ice thickness in several areas.

Ice Thickness Ice Colour Suitable Activities
Less than 15 cm Grey (indicates water) None – stay off the ice
15 cm White, opaque walking, skating
20 cm Blue, clear skating parties, hockey games
25 cm Blue, clear snowmobiles

Wear a PFD or safety floatation suit when traveling on ice as falling through is always a possibility. Wear wool clothing as it insulates your body heat even when wet; avoid wearing cotton as is does the exact opposite. Ice picks are essential; they can save your life by providing enough grip to climb out of water and over ice.

Bring a whistle and a phone in a zip-sealed baggie or waterproof case to ensure you have a way to call for help, a full change of warm, dry clothes including hat and gloves and a fire starter kit in a waterproof container (i.e. waterproof matches, dryer lint, small dry twigs). High energy sugary foods such as chocolate or sports drinks increase your body temperature. Do not consume alcohol, it does not warm you up and impacts your ability to make critical life or death decisions.

To learn more, including what to do if you or someone you are with fall through ice, go to redcross.ca search 'ice safety'.
Keep Safe, Steer Clear

Recreation activities are prohibited in City of St. John’s watersheds and source waters; this includes Windsor Lake and Broad Cove River, Bay Bulls Big Pond and Petty Harbour Long Pond.
Crossing our source waters in winter is risky as the water levels and flow underneath the ice can change suddenly.

-  By Michael Beck
   Fitness & Sport Coordinator, City of St. John’s
   Master Water Safety Instructor Trainer, Canadian Red Cross