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Fire Department Issues Warning About Thin Ice After Ice Rescue on Lake Windermere

A sobering reminder about the importance of ice safety yesterday afternoon after one person fell through the ice and had to be rescued on Lake Windermere.

“In spite of online posts to the contrary, the ice on the Lake is NOT safe at this time,” stresses Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Service Chief Drew Sinclair. “Much of the ice surface is only a few days old with temperatures only dropping to double digits a few times in recent weeks. The recent dusting of snow has obscured any cracks or new edges that might be visible when on the ice. Please stay off.”

10 members of the Windermere Fire Department responded to the call yesterday afternoon, with 3 pieces of apparatus including the Ice Rescue Hovercraft. BC Ambulance and RCMP were also dispatched.  “Upon arrival, it was found that one person had fallen through the ice, had been extracted by their two companions and taken to Windermere Beach. The patient was assessed and warmed in the Rescue Unit until being treated and transported by BC Ambulance for further assessment.”

The Canadian Red Cross recommends ice be a minimum of 5” thick before it is safe to skate on or 7” for groups of people. Ice that is either blue or black is strongest and any ice that is opaque or white may not be as safe to walk on. 

“While giving the lake time to freeze, we encourage people to prepare for activities on the lake by getting a pair of Ice Picks and learning the basics of self rescue. These are simple techniques that can make life-saving difference until help arrives,” adds Sinclair. There are numerous educational videos online that demonstrate the basics of how to perform a self rescue.

“The big message we need people to understand is that the ice is NOT safe right now and they need to stay off of it,” says Sinclair.