Ice on waterways is never 100% safe

snowmobile spring melt

Winter is approaching quickly and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to provide the public with safety tips prior to accessing any waterway that may appear frozen.

In wintertime, many of Ontario’s lakes and ponds become frozen bodies of water which offers great opportunities to do sports such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, fishing, skating and cross country skiing.

Unfortunately, every year many Canadians die in ice related incidents.

Remember, ice is never 100 percent safe as you cannot tell the strength of the ice by its appearance.

Here are some safety tips that may assist:

  • Avoid, slushy ice, thawed ice that has recently refrozen, ice near moving water.
  • Go with an experienced, safety-conscious guide who is familiar with local conditions. Do not travel on ice alone.
    Constantly scan the frozen terrain for signs of changing conditions, loosen buckles and undo belts on any packs or equipment you are carrying or riding on so they can easily be removed. Loosen bindings on snowshoes.
  • Do not drink alcohol and travel over ice covered bodies of water. Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm in cold conditions.
  • Carry a map and compass or a GPS system. A changing weather front can cover a lake quickly in fog or a snowstorm and leave you disoriented on a surface with no landmarks. Make sure your GPS battery is fully charged. Carry a compass as backup and know how to use it.
  • Do not travel over ice-covered water in early and late winter when conditions are more likely to be dangerous.
  • Consider carrying a small personal safety kit that should include items such as a lighter, waterproof matches, a magnesium fire starter, a pocket knife, and a whistle. Keep a cellular telephone in a waterproof pouch. Ice picks and a rope are also worthwhile. Carry high energy food and keep dry clothes in your vehicle.
  • Most importantly, if in doubt, don’t go out!


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