With spring several days in and fluctuating temperatures, ice on Airdrie's ponds is no longer stable; hence the city's fire department is warning residents to stay off the ice.
"The danger is that ice seldom freezes uniformly. Ice will be thinner when it is formed over moving water, and where it surrounds partially submerged objects such as rocks or vegetation," a previous city press release stated. "Snow-covered ice and ice that has thawed and refrozen are not as strong as new, clear hard ice. Many factors can cause thickness and strength to vary drastically."
The Fire Department is urging parents and guardians to remind children about the dangers of playing on or near natural waterways. Pet owners should keep their four-legged friends on a leash and in the event, a pet does fall through, owners should immediately call 9-1-1.
"This is a situation with high risk to anyone not trained or equipped to survive submersion in cold water."
In the event that someone does fall through the ice, the fire department urges to not to climb out immediately, rather it is safest to turn back in the direction you came from.
"Reach forward onto the ice. Get horizontal and kick your feet and try to slide back up onto the ice. Once out of the water crawl or roll away. Avoid standing until you are well clear of the weak ice," AFD urges.
Planning is also a crucial part of safety, therefore residents should look to having either a personal flotation device or float coat, ice picks, a signalling device like a pea-less whistle, or cell phone and using the buddy system will help in the event of an ice emergency.
According to a 2020 study conducted by York University, out of the 10 countries that were included in the study, Canada had the highest number of winter drownings. One of the lead researchers of the study, Associate Professor Sapna Sharma, noted that the time when the risk of drowning is greatest is at the beginning and the end of winter.
"[This] also corresponds to the weakest ice, when it is less stable and less thick."
The Airdrie Fire Department urges residents who witness unsafe behaviour on natural ice surfaces in their community, to call 9-1-1.
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