Winter Fire Safety

Winter Fire Safety


Ice Safety 

There is no such thing as completely safe when dealing with ice. Be suspicious. You cannot tell the strength of the ice by its appearance. Temperature, thickness, snow cover, water depth, size of water body, currents and distribution of the load on top of the ice are all factors affecting ice safety. Always check ice thickness before venturing out. Snowmobiles require at least five inches of clear solid ice and autos at least eight inches to a foot of clear solid ice.

Check reported conditions. Before you head onto any ice, check with a local bait shop operator or resort owner for known ice conditions, thin ice areas or dangerous open water conditions.

Avoid travelling on ice at night. Clear hard ice is the only kind of ice recommended for travel; keep away from unfamiliar paths or unknown ice.

Suit up. If you must venture onto the ice, wear a thermal protection buoyant suit to increase your chances of survival if you fall through. If you do not have one, wear a lifejacket/PFD over an ordinary snowmobile suit or layered winter clothing


  • Slushy ice
  • Thawed ice that has recently refrozen
  • Layered or rotten ice caused by sudden temperature changes
  • Ice near moving water (i.e. rivers or currents)

Never go on the ice alone. A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty.

Inform someone. Before you leave shore, inform someone of your destination and expected time of return.

Assemble a kit. Assemble a small personal safety kit no larger than the size of a man's wallet to carry with you. The kit should include a lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, pocketknife, compass and whistle. You should also carry ice picks, an ice staff, a rope and a cellular phone.

Know what to do if you hear the ice crack:

  • Lay down on the ice.
  • Call for help loudly and clearly. 
  • Crawl or roll back to land.

Self-rescue steps:

  • Float on your stomach facing the shore.
  • Reach forward onto the ice; do not push down on it.
  • Kick your legs to slowly push your torso onto the ice.
  • Crawl or roll away from the hole.
  • If you can’t climb onto the ice, float in the water and call for help loudly and clearly.
  • Get medical help immediately.

Assisting someone who has fallen through the ice:

  • Do not attempt to go on the ice.
  • Push or throw a stick, branch, rope or floating aid to the victim.
  • It is important to get help fast.
  • Call 9-1-1 for expert assistance.
  • Remember reach, throw…but do not go!

Snow Fort DangersIgloo

One cubic foot of snow weighs approximately five pounds. If a snow cave or snow fort is six feet under the snow, a collapse could place approximately 1,000 pounds of snow on top of a child. In addition, children should not play in areas where snow removal or clearing are taking place.

Fire Hydrants

In an emergency, every second matters. Blocked, concealed or difficult-to-access fire hydrants can impede emergency fire response.

Fire trucks carry a finite amount of water, so one of responders’ first tasks upon arrival locating a water supply from the nearest hydrant. Hydrants covered in snow can be difficult to locate, and uncovering them can waste valuable time.

You can help reduce the risk by keeping nearby fire hydrants accessible and clear of ice and snow. Although there are few rules concerning who should clear hydrants, it’s generally considered the responsibility of the residents occupying property near a hydrant. 

In addition to removing snow and debris covering the hydrant, we recommend clearing the area around the hydrant for easier access. Hydrants should have a clearing of one metre (three feet) all around and there should be a clear path to the street to ensure firefighters can readily access them.  

If you have questions about seasonal safety, please contact your local fire department.