MANITOULIN–Manitoulin OPP cautions area residents about thin ice conditions in the Manitoulin area. Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers. Ice should be checked for thickness regularly as you move further out on frozen bodies of water.
The strongest ice is clear blue in colour. White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice with a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided. Travelling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can be particularly dangerous and added precautions must be taken. At least 10 centimetres (4 inches) of clear blue ice is required for walking on, 20 centimetres (8 inches) for snowmobiles and 30 centimetres (12 inches) or more is needed for most light vehicles. Double these amounts if the ice is white or opaque. A layer of heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down freezing.
Avoid travelling on ice at night as it is very difficult to see open holes in the ice. This is a frequent cause of snowmobile drowning. Never go onto the ice alone, a friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Stay off river ice as currents can quickly change ice thickness over night or between different parts of the river. Wearing a snowmobile flotation suit can increase your survival chances if you do go through the ice.
“Anyone venturing out on any ice should keep in mind that there are inherent risks associated with this activity,” states Constable Allan Boyd, Community Services Officer with the Manitoulin OPP.