Hazardous conditions on and around bodies of water
Lake Simcoe watershed – January 19, 2024 – With winter in high gear, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is reminding residents how to be prepared for winter hazards, particularly around bodies of water.
Frequent freeze-thaw cycles can create hazardous conditions by increasing runoff and contributing to higher water levels and faster flows in local watercourses. Accumulated snow and ice will also melt and refreeze, causing slippery and unstable areas around water. Slippery banks, high water levels, and fast flowing, extremely cold water can lead to very hazardous and dangerous conditions.
Winter hazards are not limited to natural shorelines and riverbanks. Stormwater ponds, while seemingly inviting for skating, are dangerous. These ponds are designed to collect stormwater runoff from the surrounding neighbourhood and have water flowing in and out of them year-round. Road salt and other pollutants also collect in these ponds, further weakening any ice that forms. Because of these functions, the ice formed on the surface is extremely unstable and should never be used for recreational purposes.
Despite these hazards, you can still enjoy the outdoors this time of the year. At conservation areas and municipal parks, official trails have been created with your safety in mind. Use these trails and still get some fresh air safely.
Be safe by following these tips:
- Stay on the official trails at Ontario’s conservation areas to enjoy the outdoors safely.
- Keep family members and pets away from riverbanks and edges of all water bodies.
- Do not attempt to drive or walk on iced-covered water bodies. Always obey any posted safety signs.
- Avoid all recreational activities in or around water, especially near ice jams or ice-covered water bodies, unless at an officially designated municipal facility.
- Never use stormwater ponds for ice skating or any other activity. Water levels on these ponds can change due to road salt, snow melting, and changing temperatures causing cracks and dangerously thin ice.
- Rescuing another person or a pet from ice is dangerous. If you see anyone that has fallen through the ice, call 9-1-1 for help immediately.
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The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s mission is to collaborate to protect and restore the Lake Simcoe watershed with innovative research, policy, and action.
Sinem Connor, Senior Communications Advisor