Ontario residents told ‘no ice is safe ice’ following several deaths

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Published March 1, 2024 at 12:48 pm

frozen lake risks

First responders in Ontario are reminding everyone that “no ice is safe ice” and are urging people to avoid frozen bodies of water due to the high risk of structural instability.  

In a recent social media post, representatives from the Oakville Fire Department warned residents to remain off of all regional ponds, rivers and lakes that appear frozen. 

The statement comes just a few weeks after the OPP recovered two bodies from Charleston Lake, located northeast of Kingston. According to a news release, the two people were reported missing on Feb. 11 after going hiking in the area. A third person who fell through the ice was able to get out, according to police.

York Regional Police have also reported several falls into freezing water. In a news release, police said a snowmobiler went through the ice near Duclos Point on Jan. 26 and that another man fell through the ice while riding an ATV near Thorah Island on Jan. 31.

York police say that on Feb. 3, two men fell through the ice while riding an ATV on the ice at Duclos Point and that while both were rescued, one suffered a medical emergency later on and died.

“Each year, members of the Marine Unit respond to calls of people, vehicles and pets that have fallen through the ice. Citizens are reminded to keep pets and children away from all ice surfaces during times when the temperature is rising and the ice is melting,” York police said in the Feb. 5 news release.

While the structural integrity of ice may fluctuate with temperature changes, which Ontario is seeing no shortage of, the main risk factors are variables like changing currents or air pockets. The official stance from first responders in Oakville is to mainly avoid frozen stormwater management ponds (SWMPs). Oakville has 52 operational SWMPs, the majority of which are likely frozen by winter conditions. 

Additional information also indicates that beyond air pockets and shifting currents, SWMPs also are likely to have fluctuating levels of salt in the water, further adding to their unpredictability.

For those residing in municipalities across Ontario, it is crucial to look for any signage indicating that a body of water is a SWMP, as it is crucial for both personal safety and the safety of others.

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