Ice is unpredictable at this time of year – do you know the 1-10-1 Principle?

(A man walking his dog has broken through a thin ice surface. Photo: Ottawa Police)

With the onset of warmer temperatures, the Ottawa Police are warning people of the dangers of thin ice and open bodies of water as well as the potential for flooding due to heavy rain and melting snow.

“Considering the heavy snowfall this winter and expected springtime-like weather, we can expect increases in groundwater runoff and possible flooding weakening ice surfaces,” said Sgt. Walt Lushman of the Ottawa Police Service’s Marine, Dive and Trails (MDT) Unit. “Ice is inherently dangerous at this time of year and always unpredictable.” 

During spring snowmobile runs, it is best to stick to the trails and away from open bodies of water or thin ice. Riding after dark and consuming alcohol or drugs are factors in more than half of snowmobile-related drownings.

Any ice less than about 15cm (6 inches) thick is a hazard. Do you know the 1-10-1 Principle of cold water immersion? 

  • 1 Minute = Cold Shock
  • 10 Minutes = Cold Incapacitation
  • 1 Hour = HYPOTHERMIA

 Other MDT safety tips include:

  1. Always supervise children playing outside who may wander or want to play near rivers, ponds, creeks or ditches etc. A child can drown in less than two inches (5 cm) of water.
  2. Cold water temperatures can prevent even strong swimmers from escaping once they’ve fallen through the ice.
  3. Watch your pets closely so they don’t venture near or onto thin ice.

 More ice safety tips are available online at Ottawa Police Services.


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