As temperatures drop and ice begins to form, Winnipeg first responders remind residents to use extreme caution around all Winnipeg waterways, including drainage ditches, culverts, streams, creeks, retention ponds, and rivers.
Ice surfaces are thin and fragile and falling into ice-cold water can be deadly. Parents and teachers are urged to speak to children and students about the dangers of waterways. Dog owners should keep dogs on leashes around the ice to prevent them from chasing geese onto thin ice.
“We are starting to see thin layers of ice forming on the river and ponds, said Assistant Chief Mark Reshaur, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS). “All residents should stay away from these surfaces and their banks as the thickness of the ice is unpredictable.”
“Staying away from the riverbanks, and off of any thin ice, is the only way to prevent the dire consequences of falling through,” said Patrol Sergeant Jason English, River Patrol Supervisor for the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). “The WPS considers all frozen bodies of water within the city of Winnipeg to be unsafe for recreational use with the exception of areas that are monitored in accordance with the City’s Frozen Waterways By-Law, such as the Forks Centennial River Trail.”
The public is also reminded that while the WPS River Patrol Unit places “Danger - Thin Ice” signage at specific locations including outfalls, retention ponds and other potentially dangerous areas - ALL ice should be considered unsafe even if warning signage is not present.
Each year, the WFPS responds to approximately 200 water and ice safety calls for service.