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Ice Safety

The Yellowknife Fire Department does not recommend walking on ice in the Yellowknife area until the ice thickness is a minimum of 6 inches.


The following information is courtesy of the
Lifesaving Society of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Use designated ice surfaces.
Designated ponds for skating should be maintained by well-informed personnel and are regularly tested to ensure that the ice is thick enough and strong enough for recreational use.

Minimum Ice Thickness for New Clear Hard Ice:
Recommendations for ice thickness are based on clear, blue or green ice. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect. Ice that is a mixture of clear and white ice should be a minimum of six inches before walking on it. Conditions such as currents and water depths affect ice thickness. Ice sections very close together can have very different thickness.

 3" (7cm) or less STAY OFF
4" (10cm) walking, cross country skiing
6" (12cm) one snowmobile
8"-12" (20-30cm) one car or small pickup
12"-15" (30-38cm) one medium truck (pickup or van)
 Ice Thickness Diagram
Photo courtesy: North Dakota Fish & Game Department

 Picture of an Ice Pick Take safety equipment.
ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit in your pocket, which includes a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and a cell phone.
Ice picks can be purchased at your local outdoor recreation store  

Always supervise children playing on or near ice.
Insist that they wear a lifejacket, Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or thermal protection buoyant suit.

Have an emergency plan.
Plan and practise what to do if someone falls through the ice.

Stay off river ice.
Currents can quickly change ice thickness over night or between different parts of the river.

Never go onto ice alone.
A buddy may be able to rescue you and/or go for help. Before you leave shore, tell someone else where you are going and expected time of return.

Wear a snowmobile flotation suit or a lifejacket/PFD.
A lifejacket over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothes increases your survival chances.

Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol impairs your judgment and speeds up the development of hypothermia.

Avoid travelling on ice at night.
Snowmobile related drownings often occur at night as it is difficult to see open holes in the ice.

If you drive on ice, have an escape plan.
Open your windows, unlock your doors, and turn on your lights. This will help you to more quickly escape from your vehicle.

Ice Rescue

• Anyone on or near the weak ice should slowly lay down.
• Tell the person in the water to kick and slowly ease their way out.
• Have them crawl or roll away from broken ice.
• Use a long reaching assist, i.e. rope, stick or ladder.
• Once the person is out of the water, make sure you are both far enough away from the hole before you get close.
• Help the victim into dry clothes, get into shelter, and treat for hypothermia.

Can you trust the ice?
Ice Myths and Cold Realities

For more information on ice safety, please visit the following web-sites:

Ice Safety - Rescue Yourself

Basic Ice Safety

Basic Ice Facts

A Field Guide to Ice Construction Safety (2007)
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