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Safety Tips

Winter & Ice Safety

Drowning can occur at any time of year. In fact, every year 1/3 of all drownings in Manitoba occur during the colder months between October and April. Many of these drownings occur on ice and involve recreational snowmobiling.

Below are some great safety tips on Ice Safety and Cold Water Immersion:

  • Check the weather and avoid going on the ice on warm or stormy days.
  • Have trained people test ice thickness.
  • Avoid vehicle travel on ice whenever possible.
  • Keep away from unfamiliar paths or unknown ice.
  • Never go onto the ice alone.
  • Before you leave shore, inform someone of your destination and expected time of return.
  • Wear a buoyant suit or lifejacket whenever you are on the ice. It could save your life.
  • Carry ice picks, ice poles and rope.
  • Avoid going on ice at night.
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The 1/10/1 Principle:

Gordon Giesbrecht, a professor with the University of Winnipeg has developed the 1/10/1 principle to explain the three stages of cold-water immersion.
  • 1 minute of cold shock, which looks like gasping. Get your breathing back under control.
  • 10 minutes of meaningful movement before your body starts to lose effective use of fingers, arms, legs.
  • 1 hour before hypothermia causes unconsciousness.
Wearing lifejackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) can help reduce the effects of cold-water immersion drastically and can keep you afloat while you control your breathing in the critical first stage of Cold Shock. It is important to stay calm so that you can focus on getting out of the water as soon as possible before you lose mobility and hypothermia eventually sets in.

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