With warmer weather on the horizon, the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba together with the Winnipeg Police Service and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, are encouraging Manitobans to stay off all frozen bodies of water.

Thin ice conditions are currently present on all waterways and ice in Winnipeg, and the rest of southern Manitoba is now unpredictable and potentially unsafe.

“The Forks has closed the Nestaweya River Trail for the season; we’re seeing more open water across the city and more people near our waterways in Winnipeg,” says River Patrol Officer Ray Duma of the Winnipeg Police Service. “All rivers, streams, retention ponds and ditches should be avoided. Conditions can change quickly due to weather, especially when it is warm or after a snowfall. As always, we ask the community to be water smart and stay safe.”

According to the Lifesaving Society Manitoba, drownings can happen at any time of the year, with one-third of all drownings in Manitoba occurring during the colder months between October and April.

“If you do, choose to go on the ice, then you need to plan ahead and be prepared to go through the ice and into cold water,” says Lifesaving Society Executive Director Stacey Grocholski. “Wear something that floats like a floater suit or even a lifejacket. Do not go out alone, and be prepared to perform a rescue.”

Each year, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responds to approximately 150 water and ice rescue calls for service.