The cold weather during winter can often lead to frozen ponds and waterways including, canals, rivers, and lakes.
Although frozen water may look enticing, it is very dangerous and can have fatal consequences. Ice can easily break and you do not know how thin the ice you are standing on is or how deep the water is below.
Falling into freezing cold water can then cause cold water shock. Cold water shock refers to the reaction of the body to entering cold water. Cold water shock can have a dramatic effect on your body. It can cause you to breathe in water, weaken your muscles, and cause your heart to go into abnormal rhythms.
We are urging people not to put their lives at risk by venturing onto frozen water.
- Never walk or jump onto frozen water. Even if it appears thick from the bank, it could be thin and break easily. You also do not know how deep the water is below.
- Do not be tempted to test the thickness of the ice. It is easy to slip from the bank and fall through into the freezing water.
- Make sure children understand how dangerous it is to play on the ice and teach them not to go onto the ice under any circumstances. Adults can set a good example by staying off the ice themselves too.
- Dog owners should ensure they keep their pets on a lead, and avoid throwing toys or sticks on the ice, so they are not at risk of falling in. If your dog does fall in, do not go onto ice or into the water to rescue them. Instead, move to a place the dog will be able to climb out and call them toward you.
- Time your walks to make the most of the daylight; if you need to walk in the evening only use well-lit areas or take a route that avoids water.
- Don’t wander too near the edge, icy or wet conditions could cause you to slip and fall in.
What to do if you fall through the ice:
- Keep calm and shout for help.
- Spread your arms across the surface of the ice in front of you.
- If the ice is strong enough, kick your legs to slide onto the ice.
- Lie flat and pull yourself towards the bank.
- If the ice breaks, work your way to the bank-breaking the ice in front of you.
- If you cannot climb out, wait for help and keep as still as possible. Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together. Keep your head clear of the water.
- Once you are safe, go to the hospital immediately for a check-up.
What to do if you see someone fall through the ice:
- Shout for assistance and phone 999.
- Do not walk or climb onto the ice to attempt a rescue.
- Shout to the casualty to ‘keep still’ and offer reassurance to keep them calm.
- Try to reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, tree branch, or anything else which can extend your reach, such as clothing tied together.
- When reaching from the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice
- If you cannot reach them, slide something which floats across the ice for them to hold onto whilst help is on the way.
- If the casualty is too far away, do not attempt to rescue them. Wait for the emergency services and continue to reassure the casualty.
What to do after the casualty has been rescued from the ice:
- Make sure an ambulance has been called.
- Lay the casualty flat, check for normal breathing and begin resuscitation if necessary.
- Prevent them from getting colder by covering them with warm clothing and blankets etc.
- Create some shelter and get them out of the cold if possible.
- Until the casualty is in a warm place, do not undress them.
- Do not rub their skin, do not apply hot water bottles, and do not give them anything alcoholic.