The Grenville County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have issued a reminder to the public regarding the dangers of venturing onto frozen lakes and rivers in the area amid fluctuating winter weather conditions.
“Not all lakes or rivers are the same and with the current varying winter weather conditions and temperatures this can rapidly change ice conditions,” OPP state in a media release.
Those considering walking or travelling on ice are advised to perform thorough checks by examining the ice at multiple points, wearing flotation suits, and carrying ice picks for safety. Specific guidelines are provided for safe ice thickness: a minimum of 10 centimetres (four inches) of clear blue ice for walking, 20 centimetres (eight inches) for snowmobiles, and at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) for most light vehicles. These measurements should be doubled if the ice appears white or opaque.
Ice safety and weight-bearing properties of ice can be affected by many factors, including thickness, currents, age of ice, pressure cracks and snow cover. Ice does not freeze at uniform thickness across bodies of water. Thickness should be checked regularly as you move further out onto the ice.
Highlighting the varying strengths of ice, the OPP emphasize that clear blue ice is the strongest while white or opaque ice is considerably weaker. Additionally, a layer of heavy snow atop frozen water bodies can insulate the ice below, slowing down the freezing process and posing increased risks.
Special cautionary measures are advised for travelling on ice with snowmobiles or vehicles due to potential dangers.
“Avoid slushy ice, untracked ice, or ice near moving water or dock bubblers,” police say.
In a bid to enhance safety, folks are urged to inform others about their fishing plans and expected return times. This precautionary measure could aid rescue crews in narrowing down search areas in case of emergencies.
With school breaks in session, parents are reminded to remain vigilant as children might explore frozen ponds or waterways, potentially exposing themselves to risks.
The OPP, in collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), appealed to snowmobilers to take personal responsibility for their safety during winter activities. Snowmobilers are directed to visit www.ofsc.on.ca to access trail status updates.