The Alberta RCMP is issuing a warning to Central Albertans reminding them to practice ice safety this winter. With the changing weather conditions and above average temperatures, it is hard to tell the strength or thickness of ice by its appearance.

RCMP have responded to multiple occurrences over this past weekend and want to remind the all Albertans the dangers of unpredictable thin ice and open water. If you choose to go out on the ice, keep in mind the following safety tips:

Consider Conditions:  Keep a close eye on the weather, changing weather can make ice surfaces unpredictable. Do not travel over ice in early and late winter when conditions are more likely to be dangerous. Avoid slushy, thawed, recently refrozen ice, or ice near moving water. Avoid going on the ice at night as reduced visibility increases the risk of falling through.

Always check the ice for thickness and stability. The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength − clear blue to black ice is strongest, and likely the deepest. You should only skate or walk on ice that is 15+ cm thick, 20+ cm for a group of people and 25+ cm for off highway vehicles. White opaque or snow ice should be avoided, grey ice indicates the presence of water and is unsafe to stand on.

Plan Ahead:  Don’t travel on the ice alone. Leave a trip plan with someone that includes where you’re going, for how long, and when you will be back. If you are unable to leave a trip plan with someone, leave a note on your car windshield. Don’t drink alcohol and travel on ice, alcohol impairs judgment and reduces your ability to stay warm in cold conditions.

Safety:  When spending time on the ice, you should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have an emergency plan.

Be Prepared:  Carry a personal safety kit that includes:

  • a lighter
  • waterproof matches
  • fire starting materials
  • pocket knife
  • whistle
  • cellphone in a waterproof pouch

Carry a fully-charged GPS, a compass and map as a backup, and know how to use them. Familiarize yourself with your buckles, bindings, and belts on equipment so they can be removed quickly if needed. Changing weather conditions can also affect ice from day to day. So, remember, if in doubt, don't go out! Should you need emergency services, dial 911.