Following a number of recent incidents Chief Fire Officer Paul Hayden, CFOA Lead for Flooding and the Environment is urging people to stay off frozen lakes, ponds and waterways.
CFO Paul Hayden Said:
“Every year in my area (Herefordshire and Worcestershire), we are called to between 50-60 water rescues each year, many resulting from people falling through ice in winter. Recent media reports have highlighted the drama of rescues from frozen waterways. Frozen and icy water may look very picturesque but, it can present a number of dangers, especially to children. Once the thaw sets in these risks will increase and even ice that had previously been very thick can give way very suddenly and unexpectedly.”
“One of the most recent rescues took place in Herefordshire on 6th January 2010, where firefighters were called by Police Community Support Officers to reports of a boy who’d fallen through ice into icy water and somehow managed to climb onto an island in the middle of the pool. Specialist rescue crews were brought in to construct a bridge that was used to rescue the boy who was then passed to emergency medical crews. Icy water carries significant risks and in this case we were able to rescue a live casualty.”Please remember:
- Do not go onto ice-covered lakes, ponds or rivers – it’s not safe. (In the event of entering icy water hypothermia can set in very quickly reducing the ability to get out safely).
- The ice closest to the bank may appear to be thick but it may become thinner in other areas.
- If a dog or another animal falls through the ice, do not go to its rescue, if the ice did not support the animal it will not take your weight.
- Do not become a victim; always call the Emergency Services on 999.
- If you do see a person or animal in difficulties call 999 and direct the Emergency Services to the scene on their arrival.
In closing Chief Fire Officer Paul Hayden said:
“Firefighters are raising awareness about water safety issues in schools but people must take responsibility and understand that venturing onto frozen ponds, lakes and canals is extremely dangerous; falling through the ice can easily have fatal results. Children are particularly at risk, and parents and guardians are asked to remind them of the dangers. Pets are also likely to become stranded if not kept under close control; this often leads to people risking their own lives to reach them.”