As the region continues to have lower temperatures, some may be eager to get outside and play on the ice, however it is important make sure the ice is thick to avoid potentially fatal accidents. There are some guidelines that can help deciding whether or not to venture out onto a frozen surface, and if so, for what activity.

The thickness of ice plays a pivotal role when determining the weight it can support. The general guidelines state the following thicknesses is required for given activities:
• 10 cm (four inches) for walking on
• 20 cm (eight inches) to drive a snowmobile or ATV on
• 30 cm (12 inches) to drive a car or light truck on
• 30+ cm (more than 12 inches) to support a heavy truck

Ice thickness on various bodies of water doesn’t freeze uniformly, and therefore could be thinner in some areas and it is important to be aware of all areas of the waterbody before venturing out as the ice strength can vary.

Although the thickness is a primary concern, other factors can affect the integrity of the ice and should be watched out for. The Ministry of Environment recommends avoiding ice that:
• looks slushy
• has thawed, then frozen again
• is near moving water
• is layered, caused by a sudden temperature change
• has structures on it, such as pressure ridges

Knowing all the variables and what to look for can greatly reduce chances of accidents which could cause hypothermia or worse.

According to an article in explore-mag.com, if you do break through the ice, you will have one minute to adjust to the initial shock and resume normal breathing, 10 minutes to remove yourself from the water before your muscles will begin to seize and one hour before going unconscious.

Regardless of the activity, skating, ice fishing or walking, it is advised to always monitor the conditions and let others know when and where you are going if an accident does occur.

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