Snowy ground looking out over lake, surrounded by bare trees

Winter Water Safety

In winter months, children and pets are particularly at risk. They may be tempted to play on ice which can form on open water, and adults can find themselves at risk attempting to save them. 

Taking Care Around Icy Water

Areas with frozen lakes, ponds, canals and reservoirs can be beautiful places to visit during the winter months but too many people risk their lives by venturing into or onto frozen water. We recommend you:

  • Teach children not to go onto the ice under any circumstances
  • Don’t go onto ice or into the water to rescue a dog. Instead, move to a place the dog will be able to climb out and call them towards you
  • Keep dogs on leads near ice and don’t throw sticks or toys onto the ice
  • Time your walks to make the most of the daylight; if you need to walk in the evening only use well-lit areas or take a route which avoids water
  • Keep well away from the edge when walking near water 

What to do if you fall through the ice: 

  1. Keep calm and shout for help
  2. Spread your arms across the surface of the ice in front of you 
  3. If the ice is strong enough, kick your legs to slide onto the ice 
  4. Lie flat and pull yourself towards the bank 
  5. If the ice breaks, work your way to the bank-breaking the ice in front of you
  6. If you cannot climb out, wait for help and keep as still as possible. Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together. Keep your head clear of the water 
  7. Once you are safe, go to hospital immediately for a check up 

What to do if you see someone fall through the ice: 

  1. Shout for assistance and phone 999
  2. Do not walk or climb onto the ice to attempt a rescue 
  3. Shout to the casualty to ‘keep still’ and offer reassurance to keep them calm 
  4. Try to reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, tree branch or anything else which can extend your reach, such as clothing tied together
  5. When reaching from the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice 
  6. If you cannot reach them, slide something which floats across the ice for them to hold onto whilst help is on the way 
  7. If the casualty is too far away, do not attempt to rescue them. Wait for the emergency services and continue to reassure the casualty 

What to do after the casualty has been rescued from the ice: 

  1. Make sure an ambulance has been called
  2. Lay the casualty flat, check for normal breathing and begin resuscitation if necessary 
  3. Prevent them from getting colder by covering them with warm clothing and blankets etc. 
  4. Create some shelter and get them out of the cold if possible 
  5. Until the casualty is in a warm place, do not undress them 
  6. Do not rub their skin, do not apply hot water bottles and do not give them anything alcoholic

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