Multiple residents have voiced concern on local social media groups about witnessing youths allegedly playing in or on waterways in the city.
Despite cooler temperatures and snow over the past several days, warmer temperatures during the day mean that water can slightly freeze and then thaw, making for treacherous conditions if walked on.
Annually, both The City of Airdrie and the city's fire department have reminded residents that fluctuating temperatures in both the spring and fall make for very dangerous conditions.
"Stormwater facilities, often called stormwater ponds, are not safe for skating or any other winter activity. The surface may look solid, but stormwater flows underneath the surface due to snowfall, snowmelt, road clearing and salting operations," the City stated on its website.
They underlined that runoff typically contains concentrations of salt and/or warmed water, and can quickly thin ice surfaces. There also may be sudden water level changes under the ice, resulting in unstable and unsafe conditions, which include fluctuating temperatures, depth and size of body of water, flowing water under the ice, as well as chemicals like salt and silt from run-off found in storm ponds in the water including fluctuations in water levels, and logs, rocks and docks in the water absorbing heat from the sun
"Any of these factors can cause the ice to weaken and become dangerous. Talk with your children about ice safety. It is also important to keep your pets on a leash when walking them near natural ice surfaces."
In a social media post from nearly one year ago, the Airdrie Fire Department warned residents to stay off the ice, underlining that while ice was forming on Airdrie's ponds, residents were asked to stay off.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, the minimum ice thickness should be at least 15 centimetres for walking or skating alone, 20 centimetres for skating parties or games, and 25 centimetres for snowmobiles. The Red Cross also advised that if an individual does find themselves in trouble on ice, they should call for help, but resist the immediate urge to climb back out where they fell in.
"Try to relax and catch your breath. Turn yourself toward shore so you are looking at where you entered onto the ice. The ice is more stable close to shore. Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to try to get your body into a horizontal position," The Red Cross states.
Other tips include continuing to kick one's legs and crawl onto the ice, and when one is back on the ice, to crawl on one's stomach or roll away from the open area with one's arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight.
"Do not stand up! Look for shore and make sure you are crawling in the right direction."
According to Health Canada between April 1, 2011 and April 13, 2023, there were 1,109 drowning-related cases reported.
"There were 200 cases reported during the colder months (January, February March, November and December). Half of these cases occurred in bathtubs and 80 in swimming pools. Nearly one-fifth of all drownings occurred in natural bodies of water, including ponds, lakes and rivers. The majority of these cases involved infants and children aged nine years or younger."
While storm ponds are not maintained by the City of Airdrie and are not meant for any recreational use, there are safer options. The City maintains six boarded rinks, six snow bank rinks and three natural ice surfaces.
"Outdoor rinks are flooded once the temperature drops to and maintains a constant -10 degrees Celsius for a minimum of one week. Outdoor rinks are available for all residents to use and enjoy on a first-come, first-served basis."
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