Venturing onto the ice is a risky proposition as temperatures go up

The Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition, in conjunction with the City of Ottawa, wants to remind residents that as the temperatures go up, awareness of the dangers of ice and open water needs to go up with it.

Rivers, lakes and other open bodies of water may look solid but are often still dangerous. When in doubt, simply stay away from the ice, period.

Because ice fishing season is not officially over until March 15, anglers are reminded that if you want to go out onto the ice, remember the thickness needs to be:

  • 15 cm for walking or skating alone
  • 20 cm for skating parties or games
  • 25 cm for snowmobiles
  • 35 cm for fishing huts

As a guideline, clear blue ice is usually the strongest; white opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Grey ice is unsafe. The greyness indicates the presence of water.

Water levels this year are higher than usual and are accompanied by soft, slippery banks that are treacherous, particularly for young children, adults and the family pet.

Before venturing onto the ice, check the Lifesaving Society’s guidelines for staying safe, and review guidelines by The Canadian Red Cross on what to do if you get into trouble on the ice.

Last winter, Ottawa Fire Services, working in close coordination with Ottawa Paramedics Service and Ottawa Police Services, responded to 49 calls for help from persons in distress, lost or feared drowned. All three groups are part of the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition.

The coalition also includes representatives of the City’s Parks Recreation and Cultural Services Department, Ottawa Public Health, the Canadian Red Cross, the Lifesaving Society, Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and local community groups.