Ice safety

The ice covering the water body does not attack people. A person who has misjudged the danger and has been too self-confident is guilty of an ice accident.

Only "healthy" ice can carry a person. Healthy ice has no cracks or crevices; its appearance is even and smooth. A longitudinal crack reduces the strength of the ice by about 25%, while a transverse crack reduces it by almost 40%.

The ice should be at least 7 cm thick. In the spring and fall, even this ice may not be safe. Nordic rescuers recommend going onto ice that is at least 10 cm thick.


Be especially careful:

  • in the location of growing reeds;
  • on a shallow place;
  • near springs (on the ice that is not covered by snow, locations of spring can be seen as darker spots);
  • at the inflow of sewage, river, stream or ditch;
  • at fords;
  • the river's narrowing or turning point;
  • on the shipping routes.

NB! In a low water body, for example, in a river, the ice is always weaker than on a lake or in the pond;

How to move on a winter water body?

  • Do not wear rubber boots. When falling into the water, you cannot get them off and then it's difficult to climb out of the ice hole.
  • Take ice awls with you. Place them around your neck or other easily accessible place.
  • A lifejacket can also be replaced by the backpack with a change of clothing packed into a watertight plastic bag. The bag keeps you on the surface and, in case of an accident, you can change clothes.
  • The strength of the ice can be measured by tapping. For that purpose, take a strong, about two-meter-long, sharp stick with you. If you sink through ice, you can hand it to those in need or to the rescuer. When moving alone, you can use it to climb out of the ice hole.
  • The more impetuous you are when moving on ice, then later you discover that the ice will no longer be able to bear you.

Did you sink through the ice?

  • Spread your arms and tilt yourself backward. So you stop the impetus and stop sinking.
  • The faster you get out, the less strength it will take and the drier the clothes will stay.

How do get out of the water?

  • Call your companions - shout or whistle.
  • Turn your face in the direction you came from.
  • Support the palms with outstretched fingers with wrists at the width of the shoulders on the ice so that the elbows rest on the ice.
  • Lift your feet to the surface as much as possible. The easiest to sink is when you are in an upright position, so be in a lying position.
  • If you have ice awls, stick their spikes into ice and support the weight of the body to the ice with the direction behind, not straight down. Push yourself forward with strong kicks. Support your hands on the ice and pull yourself onto the ice.
  • The ice breaks when you put pressure on it. Keep the pressure as small as you can. Try to grab as much ice surface as possible under your body when sliding yourself on ice.
  • Try to keep your shoulders and head dry.
  • Do not stand up when getting onto the ice. Crawl or roll yourself back where you came from because you already know the load-bearing strength of the ice.
  • If you have a change of clothes, change them in a place sheltered from the wind.
  • Go fast to where it is warm.

When the body temperature has fallen below the norm

  • Breathe in warm air. Drink warm water, but not warmer than 40 degrees water.
  • A frozen person must not be lifted or moved unnecessarily. It causes pain. The blood that starts moving in the large blood vessels of limbs can cause cold shock.
  • A hypothermal person must be isolated from the ground and the outside environment. It would be best to pack him or her into blankets and thermal sheets.
  • Other people are used to warming up the body. A frozen person is placed naked between one or two naked people under blankets.

Rescuing a person who has fallen through the ice:

  • Keep in mind that your own safety is most important;
  • assess the situation - what has happened, what is the cause of the accident;
  • call for help and call 112;
  • approach the person who has fallen through the ice along their  tracks, the last 10 m crawl and use aids to increase your support surface (skis, sled, stick, etc.);
  • leave a distance of your own length between yourself and the edge of the ice hole to which you can pull the person in need;
  • give an arm extension to the person in need (a jacket, a rope, a stick, a ski, etc.);
  • Under no circumstances do not give a hand to the drowning person - a person in a shock can pull a helper underwater with their strength;
  • If you have helped the victim on the ice, leave a distance of the length of a person between them and yourself until reaching the strong ice or the surface. The ice may break under the weight of two people moving side by side.