While this winter created some thick ice in Southern Manitoba, it's becoming dangerous for people to go on with the warming temperatures.
Dr. Christopher Love is the Water Smart and Safety Management Coordinator for Lifesaving Society for Manitoba.
"We issued an advisory as we are seeing it south in the province," says Love. "We've got very unpredictable ice and conditions so we're warning people it's just not safe to go out on the ice at this time."
Many Manitobans have enjoyed the thick ice over rivers and lakes this winter as the temperatures made for thick ice perfect for snowmobiling and ice fishing. With the spring temperatures of zero degrees and warmer this week, it's melting the ice.
"This winter we've had a huge amount of cold, as everybody knows. But we've also had a huge amount of snow. That combination, once we start getting into the spring melt makes things very unpredictable."
Even though places in Manitoba have reported that the ice in their area is up to a meter and a half thick, Love says the up and down weather causes something called layered ice.
"The ice is starting to melt because it's getting warm during the days. But then the ice is refreezing a little bit overnight because it's getting colder. But then it melts and refreezes. You could get a layer of ice and then a void space with an air bubble and another layer. In some cases, you might have a layer of ice and then a layer of water beneath, which starts eroding the ice."
What to Do if You Fall Through the Ice
The first thing to do is plan ahead if people are going to spend a day outside or near any ice, according to Love.
"You need to be wearing something that is going to make you float. That could be a floatation snowmobile suit or you grab the life jacket you normally wear in the summer. If you go out on the ice now, you need to be prepared to go through and into cold water."
Having something on to make sure a person float allows people to get over the shock and panic of breaking through into freezing water and allows a person a moment to breathe and collect their thoughts.
"Don't go out alone. Make sure you got a friend because if one of you gets into trouble, the other can help. Make sure you tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back."
If a person falls through, while it's natural, it's important not to panic.
"Generally speaking you want to turn around and head back the direction you came from because usually, that's the strong ice. Try to get your arms up overtop of that ice as wide as possible to spread out your weight and then kick your feet like your swimming to slide yourself onto that ice."
If someone has made it back onto the ice, they should roll or crawl until they're on shore to distribute their weight on unpredictable ice.
Anyone interested in more information can find it on the Lifesaving Society's website.