The Hamilton Spectator reported on the tragic death of a grandfather who drowned after he saved his grandson first. They fell through the ice during the Family Day weekend while fishing at a conservation area in Hamilton. This tragedy is a reminder that activities on ice can be very dangerous, especially when temperatures begjn to rise. Fishing and hunting are favourite winter activities in Ontario and the Canadian Red Cross reminds people to take some simple precautions to stay safe and prevent falls into frigid waters.
Tips for safe ice fishing
• Don’t trust the ice—always be aware of the thickness and quality of ice to reduce risk of breaking through. Ice tends to be thicker around the edges and thinner in the middle.
Where ice is checked for thickness, obey posted signs on when and where ice surface is acceptable for activities.
Avoid any open holes in lakes and rivers, or open ocean water.
Avoid traveling on any ice in non-daylight hours.
Be aware of currents and/or tides as these locations cannot be trusted to have consistent ice thickness.
• Fish with a buddy
Avoid going out on the ice alone to ensure rescue is an option. Discuss rescue procedures in advance to ensure all fishers know how to perform a rescue safely.
If your pet falls through the ice, call for help. Resist the temptation to go out onto the ice after them.
• Check the ice thickness
Many ice fishers will drive a motor vehicle, snowmobile or ATV to their fishing hut. No activity should be carried out on ice less than 15cm thick. In the presence of snow on ice, the minimum thickness would need to be doubled to 30cm.
• Wear a flotation device and cold protection suit, even if you’re fishing from shore or on thick ice.
• Carry rescue equipment
This includes ice picks, a rope, a cell phone (in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit. Other safety equipment to be considered includes: flashlight, waterproof matches/lighter, tool kit, candles and survival blanket.
• Save the alcohol for when you get home and are telling the fish tales.
• Take a Red Cross first aid class to learn the signs and treatment for cold-related emergencies.