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Dangers of frozen water around lakes, creeks, streams and ponds

HAMILTON, ON – The City of Hamilton is reminding residents of the dangers associated with frozen water around lakes, creeks, streams, and natural or storm water management ponds.

Frozen water can be unpredictable and changing temperatures, roadway runoff, and freeze-thaw cycles can make seemingly frozen surfaces unstable and dangerous. Residents should use extreme caution and keep away from frozen waterways unless it is posted safe to do so.

Falling into cold water can be life threatening and can cause hypothermia in only a matter of minutes.

Residents are encouraged to use extreme caution around frozen water and take advantage of outdoor skating opportunities at public rinks throughout the City. For resources on how to spend time outdoors safely or to find a list of City operated and community rinks, visit:

Quick Facts

  • Ice is never 100 per cent safe.
  • Ice does not freeze in uniform thickness and is often thicker closer to shore.
  • Follow all posted instructions and never go out alone.
  • Avoid ice that has formed over flowing water, such as creeks and streams.
  • Avoid storm water management ponds – these areas collect roadway runoff that can include de-icing materials from snow clearing operations, melted water, and debris. Even if a pond appears to be frozen over, the melted water in the runoff can form channels under or through the ice, causing uneven thickness and a potentially dangerous ice surface.
  • Keep a close eye on your children and keep pets on a leash.
  • If someone falls in, do not go in after them. Call 911, try to reach them with something such as a pole, stick, rope, or hose.
  • If a pet falls through, do not go in after them. Call their name and encourage them to come to you. Animals can survive in cold water longer than humans can, and they are often able to get themselves out.
  • If you fall in yourself: stay calm, control your breathing, get your arms onto the ice shelf and call for help. Try to get out of the same area where you went in. Kick with your feet, crawl with your arms, and roll to safety once you get back onto the ice.

Additional Resources: