Haldimand County Emergency Services Reminds Residents To Stay Off Partially Frozen Waterways

Haldimand County Emergency Services is reminding the public to be extremely cautious around partially frozen waterways. Due to recent mild temperatures, venturing out onto ice for recreational activities is not safe and strongly discouraged.

“In Haldimand County we are lucky to be so close to Lake Erie, the Grand River, and an abundance of ponds, streams and tributaries that fulfill many recreational pursuits. Ice activities like skating and fishing can be enjoyed when conditions are favorable, but there will always be a level of risk,” said Jason Gallagher, Manager of Emergency Services and Fire Chief. “By venturing out right now, you’d be putting your safety and the safety of others in jeopardy,” Gallagher added.

According to safety agencies like the Red Cross, ice should be at least 20cm thick for a person to walk or skate on. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice, however, precautions can be taken to reduce the risks. Understanding ice colour, location, weather and what to do in an emergency can help prevent tragedy.

Color and Depth

The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength − clear blue to black ice is strongest, and likely the deepest. You should only skate on ice that is 20+ cm thick. White opaque or snow ice should be avoided. Grey ice indicates the presence of water and is unsafe to stand on.


Ice thickness is never consistent. The weakest ice will be in the center and along the edge of the water. Avoid streams and flowing water, even if they look frozen. Avoid ice that has recently frozen, thawed, and then frozen again.


Swings above zero can compromise the integrity of ice by melting existing ice or changing the water level, leaving unsafe spots in both the centre and shoreline of a water body.

Before going out on ice, you should always check ice conditions, be prepared for a worst-case scenario and have an emergency plan in place. Remember to abide by public health guidelines and practice social distancing when enjoying outdoor areas. For more information about ice safety, visit HaldimandCounty.ca/emergency-preparedness or RedCross.ca.