Friday, December 17, 2010

Icy Dangers - frozen lakes are not for walking on

As the temperatures plummet again, and it looks like we're in for another long spell of Arctic blasts, I thought it might be an idea to let you see a status update from a friend on Facebook which filled both her and I with absolute horror.

Her husband, very cute puppy dog, and youngest daughter went for a walk round the reservoir near our home during the last cold snap. A few nights of -14 had made sure that the reservoir had frozen over, but the temperature was starting to rise.  What they saw scared them as my friend wrote:
OMG!! (Husband) and (Gorgeous youngest daughter) just back from walking  (cutest and most spoiled puppy dog ever) around the frozen reservoir and can you believe there are kids footprints where they have walked across it and even made a snow angel......WTF!!!!!!!
Thankfully that didn't end in tragedy, but the thought of what could have happened, the ice breaking and the children drowning, made shivers run down my spine. I'm all for teaching children to cope with hazards, but they also have to know that there are some things you just don't do. They can't judge how thick the ice is, or whether it's likely to have become thinner as it thaws. It's not worth it just to make a snow angel.

Please, if your kids are likely to be playing near water which will have frozen over, please warn them within an inch of their lives not to walk on it. It's not just me saying that. Much as it pains me to link to a story that started off life in the Daily Fail twice in one week, look at what the British Waterways Board are saying:
 'We urge visitors to Scotland's canals, including the Caledonian Canal, not to walk on frozen water under any circumstances, no matter how tempting this may be.' 
And Nottinghamshire Police issued a warning after finding 3 people in the middle of a frozen lake:

“The recent freezing temperatures have covered numerous lakes, ponds and streams with a layer of ice.
“No matter how safe this appears, youngsters or adults should never venture out onto the ice, which can crack quickly and without warning. 
“If a child falls through into the cold water they can become trapped under the ice and unable to break through to the air.”

Please be careful - kids love to play in the snow, but there are limits.

2 comments:

Isabel said...

I don't get it. Never walk on a frozen lake? A few nights of -14 may be okay for that site. A large resevoir near where I grew up was considered safe after 5 days below freezing. That was our rule of thumb and I skated there many times and know of no drownings. This sounds a little extreme! Perhaps I misunderstood your post.

Maverickapollo said...

I work for a reservoir company, and I'll tell you now, walking on ice over a reservoir, is dangerous and stupid.

Ice can be unpredictable in thickness, and with the drop offs many of our reservoirs have, can be very deep, very quickly. Even the shallow areas can have a thick layer of sludge. The water level can vary widly, giving a gap between the ice and water. And with the draw pipes, strong surface and underwater currents can pull you fast.

If the ice gives, and someone is there to see it, even the emergency services would struggle to get to some of our remote sites, and when they did get there, you'd be dead an anyone else trying to help you would be in serious trouble too.

Walking on any part of a frozen reservoir is stupid and dangerous.Even in the fine weather, reservoirs never go above 12 degrees celcius, and the shock of the water will cause you to drop and get caught by a current.

Stay away from the reservoir edge.

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