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Photograph of legs stepping and cracking thin ice.

Practicing Ice Safety

  • All posted signs are there for your safety - obey them
  • Stormwater lakes and ponds retain groundwater year round. As a result, the water underneath the surface is constantly moving, which means it does not freeze as evenly as natural bodies of water. Therefore, it is not safe to use stormwater lakes or ponds for recreational purposes
  • It is never safe to walk on the ice of the North Saskatchewan River, as the thickness of the ice can be deceiving
No matter how thick you think the ice is, there can be weak areas that can give way at any moment, sending you through the ice.

Factors that Affect Ice Thickness

  • Sudden drops in temperature weaken ice
  • Slushy snow or water on top of ice may hide cracks in it
  • Snow cover over ice may warm the ice up sufficiently to weaken it - even on a cold day
  • Wildlife may contribute to weakening of ice
  • Any objects (logs, rocks) sticking out from the ice weaken it
  • Warm weather, especially springtime, makes ice unpredictable as the ice thaws

Stormwater Lakes and Ponds

  • Stormwater lakes and ponds can be warmer, more turbulent and melt ice faster than natural bodies of water
  • Salt flowing into the ponds and lakes from roads can also help to speed up ice melt
  • Constantly flowing water means water will not freeze; most stormwater lakes and ponds will not freeze through to the bottom
  • Most stormwater ponds are connected, with as many as 10 or 12 in a row, exacerbating melting conditions downstream
As the City grows, and more stormwater lakes and ponds are built, the concern for public safety will increase. It is the unpredictability of these lakes and ponds that makes them dangerous.

Should You Happen To Fall Through Ice (Self-Rescue Steps)

  • Yell to get attention of others
  • Reach and grab onto the ice
  • Kick hard, and push your stomach onto the ice
  • Roll like a log once on the ice; don't get up to walk to the shore
  • Hang onto the ice, and keep yelling if you can't get out yourself

If Someone Else Falls Through Ice

  • Call 911, or use an emergency phone if you see one
  • Yell out the self-rescue steps to the person
    • Instruct the individual to exit the ice from the same path they went in (if they walked on that ice, you know it can hold them)
    • Have him/her place their arms on the ice shelf and kick feet to thrust his/her chest onto the ice
    • Instruct the individual to roll onto the ice shelf away from the hole they created
  • Try to get an adult to help
  • Continue watching and talking to the person
  • Wait for help
  • Show help where the person is or where you last saw the person

Did you know?

Blue ice is a purely Canadian term. The vivid blue colour comes about when large bodies of water freeze fast.

Ice supporting stationary loads needs to be almost twice as thick as when the load is moving. For example, a car parked on ice needs a layer of 30 cm (12") to support its mass. The same car, moving, needs a layer of ice only 18 cm (7") thick.

For More Information

311 Contact Centre

Online Contact 311 Online
Telephone

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555
Email 311@edmonton.ca

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