Gateway Gazette

Okotoks: Water and Ice Safety Tips

Storm Retention Pond Safety

Fire Services and Municipal Enforcement would like to remind residents that there is a real danger of falling through the ice on storm retention ponds and the Sheep River due to changing water levels. Water quality and changing weather conditions, ice quality and thickness can be significantly reduced. Storm pond water/ice contact is prohibited. It is dangerous to walk, play or skate on any open bodies of water.

Bylaw 22-12 8.1  A BYLAW OF THE TOWN OF OKOTOKS IN THE PROVINCE OF ALBERTA TO REGULATE THE USE OF OPEN SPACES AND RECREATION FACILITIES 

No person shall enter, wade, swim or skate, in or upon a storm water pond located within the Town.

No person shall: a) jump, dive, or otherwise propel themselves, from or off any amenity into a storm water pond within the Town; b) affix or secure themselves to any structure or amenity for the purposes of water play in a storm water pond located within the Town. 

Ice Safety in Winter

Ice may look solid, but because of the way it melts, it will dramatically weaken even as it retains its thickness. When water freezes, minerals in the water make vertical veins in the ice. Referred to as candelling, these veins melt faster than the rest of the ice, resulting in vertical channels that allows the ice to weaken in these channels. Ice that could support a truck in the middle of January will crumble with the weight of a child when the temperatures hover around freezing.

If someone has fallen through the ice:

  • Call 911
  • Yell for help
  • If you are on the weak ice, slowly lie down to distribute your weight and crawl or roll away from the broken or cracked area
  • Do NOT step on the ice. If you see someone fall through the ice, keep your distance as the ice may not be thick enough to hold you up
  • Call out to the person who has fallen in and tell them to grab as far up onto the edge of the ice as he/she can and to start kicking their feet like they are swimming. The kicking motion will help keep the person afloat and it is possible that the person may be able to swim right up onto the ice.
  • Extend your reach with a tree branch, hockey stick, ladder, belt, scarf, jacket or anything. Only reach them from shore because as soon as you go out onto the ice, you too are in danger of falling through creating two victims instead of one
  • Extend whatever you are holding to the person in the water and tell the person to keep kicking. This will help propel the person out while you are doing the pulling
  • Tell them to roll or crawl to safety to lower their chance of falling through the ice again
  • Try to keep them as warm as possible until help arrives

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