24 November 2010

Northamptonshire county council’s fire and rescue service is warning people about the dangers of frozen-over water, particularly deep lakes and rivers.

As the weather gets colder, people are reminded that they should steer clear of all frozen waterways and ensure children and animals are kept away from the water’s edge. When out walking, dog-owners should take particular care to avoid throwing sticks or balls near to the ice.

Chief fire officer Martyn Emberson said: “A frozen lake or waterway may look safe but you can’t tell whether the ice is thick enough to hold your weight.

“If you do see a person or animal in difficulty do not try to rescue them yourself as you could end up in trouble as well. Instead call 999 and give the emergency services as much information as you can about your location and what has happened.”

Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for customers and communities said: “Ice-related drowning is easily preventable by not going near frozen lakes or rivers and extra care should be taken as snow can often obscure the water edges making it difficult to judge if you are over water or not. By far the majority of the incidents involve children or dog walkers so ensure that children are kept away as well and keep dogs on a lead.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reported that in the last 10 years over twenty people have drowned after falling through ice into water, with over 50 percent of these incidents involving the attempted rescue of a person or dog. The advice of the royal society is the same as that of the fire and rescue service - keep animals away from the water and, if a person or an animal gets into trouble on the ice, never attempt to rescue them yourself.

Advice if someone falls through the ice:

  • Call the emergency services
  • Do not attempt to go out on to the ice yourself
  • Tell the person to stay still to maintain heat and energy
  • Try finding something which will extend your reach, such as a rope, pole or branch
  • Throw the object out and, once ensuring you are stable on the bank either by lying down or having someone hold on to you, pull them in
  • If you cannot find something to reach with, try finding an object that will float and push that out to them
  • Ensure that you keep off the ice at all times during the rescue, continue to reassure the casualty and keep them talking until help arrives
  • Once the person has been rescued, keep them warm and take them to hospital even if they appear to be unaffected.

For more information contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention Team on 01604 797000 or email enquiries@northantsfire.org.uk

For more details about advice from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents visit: http://www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/adviceandinformation/watersafety/ice-safety.aspx