Is that ice safe?

It’s winter in Canada, so that means lots of us are eager to get out on the ice! Taking caution around ice is an important part of enjoying some great outdoor activities like snowmobiling, ice fishing, skating and hockey. Learn to check for proper ice thickness with these tips.

Ice colour can help indicate the strength of ice:
  • Clear blue ice is strongest
  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice – this type of ice forms by wet snow freezing on the ice
  • Grey ice is not safe. The ice gets its grey colour from the presence of water.
Ice thickness is the best way to measure safety.  Ice should be at least:
  • 15cm for walking or skating alone
  • 20cm for group skating or games
  • 25cm for snowmobiles
Floating ice on open waters like ponds, rivers and lakes is never considered 100% safe, regardless of thickness.

Remember to check local reports before heading out on ice and avoid going out on ice at night.

Just because the weather is cold enough for there to be ice on ponds and lakes does not mean that ice is thick enough to safely skate or walk on. A lot of factors can impact ice thickness such as water depth, fluctuations in water levels, changing air temperature, docks and rocks absorbing heat from the sun and shock waves from vehicles travelling on the ice. Ice thickness can change as quickly as the weather does, so always be sure to check, even if ice was safe the day before.

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