Emergencies on the ice

Spending time on ice is part of so many great winter activities. It’s important to always make sure that ice is thick enough to be safe, but even when precautions are taken, emergencies can happen. Here’s what to do if you or someone else goes through ice:

If you are out on ice alone and in trouble:
  1. Call for help
  2. Resist the urge to climb back where you fell in. The ice is weak there.
  3. Use the air trapped in your clothing to get into a floating position on your stomach
  4. Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to push your torso onto the ice
  5. When you are back on the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your weight. Do not stand up.
  6. Look for shore and make sure you are heading in the right direction
If you are with others on the ice:

Rescuing another person from ice can be dangerous. The safest way to perform a rescue is from shore.
  1. Call for help. Determine if you can quickly get help from trained professionals (police, fire fighters, ambulance) or bystanders
  • If you can reach the person using a long pole or branch from shore, lie down and extend the pole to the person
  • If you need to go onto ice, wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device and carry a long pole or branch to test the ice in front of you. Bring something to reach or throw to the person (like a pole, branch, weighted rope or line)
  • When you get near the break, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl towards the hole
  1. Remain low, extend or throw your rescue device (pole, rope, etc.) to the person
  2. Have the person kick while you pull them out
  3. Help the person to a safe position on shore, or where you are sure ice is thick. Signal for help.
Be sure to change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.  A person who has fallen through ice could be experiencing a cold-related emergency – when a body temperature drops.  Learn more about how to know the signs and assist someone who is experiencing a cold emergency.

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