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Recent warm weather may delay on-ice activities, City of Whitehorse warns

Ice should be at least 10 cm thick for one person
A fat tire biker is seen on the Yukon River during a winter ride in 2020. The City of Whitehorse is reminding residents about safety measures they can take this winter while out on the ice. Given the recent warm weather, it’s anticipated the territory’s lakes and rivers will take longer to freeze. (Yukon News file photo)

As winter weather continues in the territory, the City of Whitehorse is issuing a reminder about ice safety.

Put simply, the city said: “If you don’t know, don’t go.”

Fast moving rivers, such as the Yukon River, will freeze at different rates and can be even less predictable than lakes and ponds.

Officials advised that residents use designated ice surfaces like community rinks for activities like skating and hockey.

Snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross country skiing are among the activities Yukoners may be taking part in on frozen waterways this winter. The city said ice should be at least 10 centimetres, or four inches, thick to support one person. It should be thicker to support vehicles.

Officials also noted that due to recent warm weather, typical ice conditions will be delayed.

“If your work or recreation activities take you out onto the ice this winter, wear a personal flotation device, and take safety equipment with you,” officials said. “More importantly, do not go out onto the ice alone.”

It’s recommended residents call 9-1-1 if they, another person, or even their pet needs assistance. A long branch, rope or pole can be used to reach someone who has fallen through the ice.

It’s also recommended that residents in a dangerous situation stay calm and ask for help; keep low and distribute weight as much as possible; if a person breaks through the ice, they should attempt to climb out where they fell through if possible; and be prepared to start a fire to mitigate the effects of hypothermia.

“Parents are encouraged to speak to their children about the dangers of going out onto the ice,” the city said in its statement. “Always supervise children playing on or near ice, and keep pets on a leash.”

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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