Safety expert plunges into icy water to teach survival tips
EDMONTON, March 3 /CNW/ - John Blaicher (a.k.a. "The Iceman") makes a
habit of plunging himself into ice-cold water in the middle of winter. One of
Canada's leading experts in water and ice safety, Blaicher jumped through a
hole in Lake Summerside today to help Canada's home, car and business insurers
deliver an important message: Ice is never 100% safe.
Every winter, 25 to 30 Canadians die in ice-related events, and countless
others fall through the ice and have close brushes with death. Blaicher is on
a 10-city tour this winter as a spokesperson for the insurance industry's Be
Smart. Be Safe. injury prevention program, teaching Canadians how to save
themselves or others from icy water and prevent needless tragedies. The Be
Smart. Be Safe. injury prevention program is sponsored by Insurance Bureau of
Canada (IBC) on behalf of Canada's home, car and business insurers.
"Many factors influence the formation of ice, and each of the factors has
a direct impact upon its strength, thickness and rate of erosion," Blaicher
told a shivering audience while immersed in the frozen lake. "Ice in cities
and towns is usually weaker and more dangerous than ice in rural areas. This
is due to a number of factors, including salt from nearby roads, and more
water movement because of ditches and sewage treatment plants."
Blaicher warned people to stay off the ice in and around Edmonton unless
the ice is man-made, on solid ground, or is maintained by knowledgeable
personnel and checked regularly. He also stressed that untrained rescuers
should never venture onto the ice to try to rescue someone in difficulty.
"This too often results in a double tragedy," he said. "If you come across
someone in trouble, you should call 911 immediately and advise the operator
that it is an ice-related emergency."
To thank Edmonton Fire Rescue Services for assisting with the
demonstration, Jim Rivait, Vice-President, Prairies, Northwest Territories and
Nunavut for Insurance Bureau of Canada presented the team with a Mustang Ice
Commander Suit to aid in water and ice rescues.
"We are grateful for your participation today, and we're pleased to
support the important contribution that Edmonton Fire Rescue Services makes
every day in keeping our communities safer," said Rivait.
For outdoor enthusiasts in Edmonton and other parts of the province,
Canada's home, car and business insurers offer the following ice safety tips:
1. Use designated ice surfaces
For activities such as skating, many communities have designated ponds or
outdoor ice surfaces that are maintained by knowledgeable personnel.
Designated ice should be regularly tested to ensure that it is thick
enough and strong enough for recreational use.
2. Measure ice thickness in several locations
Local conditions such as currents, temperature fluctuations, high winds
and water depths can affect ice thickness. White ice has air or snow
within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use. Consult
knowledgeable local individuals about ice thickness and use the following
rules as a guide:
- 3" (7cm) or less - STAY OFF
- 4" (10cm) - ice fishing, walking, cross-country skiing
- 5" (12cm) - one snowmobile or ATV
- 8"-12" (20-30cm) - one car or small pickup
- 12"-15" (30-38cm) - one medium truck (pickup or van)
3. High-risk ice areas to avoid
Avoid ice in the following areas: rivers; narrows where one pond or lake
flows into another; farm dugouts; low-head dams; areas where schools of
fish and waterfowl congregate; stormwater inlets and outlets to ponds;
areas near thermal generating plants (heating, sewage and thermal-
electric); and reservoirs.
4. Avoid travelling on ice at night or when it is snowing
Reduced visibility increases your chances of walking or driving into an
area of open water or onto weak ice. This is a frequent cause of drowning
for ATV and snowmobile users.
5. Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit or a lifejacket when on ice
While ice-fishing or operating a snowmobile, ATV or dirt bike on the
ice, you should wear a buoyant suit. If you don't have one, wear a
lifejacket or PFD over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothing to
increase your chances of survival if you go through the ice.
6. Take safety equipment with you onto the ice
Bring along ice picks, an ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety
kit that contains a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire-starter kit and
7. Avoid drinking alcohol on or near ice
Alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination and reaction time, putting
you at greater risk of a mishap. Alcohol also speeds up the development
8. Always supervise children playing on or near ice
Children should always be with a buddy and under adult supervision.
Remember that ice is constantly changing in response to weather and water
conditions. That's why ice is never 100% safe, even when you've tested its
thickness. To guarantee your safety, the best advice is to stay off the ice.
Be Smart. Be Safe. is a national injury prevention campaign developed by
Canada's home, car and business insurers to reinforce the message that most
injuries are preventable. The community outreach program visits cities and
towns across the country to show Canadians what they can do to prevent
injuries on the road, at home and at play.
/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
members of the media/
For further information:
For further information: Ellen Woodger, (416) 483-2358; James
Geuzebroek, (416) 362-2031 ext. 4364.