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Ice safety warning from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service

Posted by StreetSafe on December 2, 2010

With freezing temperatures forecast to continue into next week, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service bosses are warning people to stay off frozen lakes, rivers or ponds for their own safety.

Venturing out onto frozen water is extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening should the ice give way because there is no way of knowing just how thick or stable any ice is or whether it is strong enough to take weight.

And while many schools are closed parents are being warned to ensure their children are aware of how dangerous playing on frozen water can be with solid-looking surfaces often hiding dangerously thin ice and freezing water beneath.

Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer Dominic Harrison said: “I would advise people not to put themselves and others in danger by going onto frozen bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.

“There are many potential dangers associated with a frozen body of water. Although it may appear to be robust and strong, there can be little or no support and the ice can give way with no warning.

“The hazards are drowning, asphyxia and hypothermia. If the ice gives way then it can trap you, and when the weather is like this hypothermia sets in very, very quickly.

“I’d also urge parents to know where their children are when they are out and about in the cold weather and to never leave youngsters unsupervised near frozen ponds, rivers and lakes.”

“Our message is simple – stay off any frozen body of water for your own safety.”

Dog walkers are also asked to keep their dogs on leads near frozen water if there is a risk of them venturing onto the ice and getting into trouble.

If you see someone fall through the ice you should:

– Call the emergency services

– Do not attempt to go out on to the ice yourself

– Tell the person to stay still to maintain heat and energy

– Try finding something which will extend your reach, such as a rope, pole or branch

– Throw the object out and, once ensuring you are stable on the bank either by lying down or having someone hold on to you, pull them in

– If you cannot find something to reach with, try finding an object that will float and push that out to them

– Ensure that you keep off the ice at all times during the rescue, continue to reassure the casualty and keep them talking until help arrives.

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