Thin Ice in Chesterville

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Recent cold weather froze the ice on the South Nation River in Chesterville just enough last Wednesday morning to make it a little too tempting for a couple of local children!

Barbara Mocket has been driving with 417 Bus Lines for 8 years. On Wednesday morning, December 16, as she was driving the kids on her bus to St Mary’s School, she glanced down at the river and saw a child walking out on the thin ice, towards an open body of water. Another child on the side looked like they were about to follow. With only a couple of days of very cold weather at the beginning of the week, the little bit of ice on the river was much to thin to walk on.

Barbara blasted her horn until the children realised the racket was intended for them. The children abandoned their plans, and headed up the stairs. Barbara and her bus intercepted them at the top of the stairs where Barbara says she gave them a bit of a “lecture.” She followed up with the Principal of St Mary’s who was quick to review safety with all the children at the school. Barbara says the entire experience was scary, and admits she cried after it was all over. She said:”I believe this was a divine appointed moment where my eyes were turned towards them, where a child’s life was saved from something horrible.” She hopes that sharing her experience will encourage all parents and caregivers to have a chat with their child, and remind them to stay off the river, that ice is thin at this time of year, and they should never go out on the ice without a responsible adult with them.

It is never a good idea for anyone to head out onto ice unless you know for certain the thickness, the quality, and what the water is like underneath. Sometimes a thin layer of ice can hide fast-moving or dangerous water below, making the ice above unstable. Ice thickness can be affected by the depth of the water, currents, chemicals, changes in water levels, logs, rocks or anything absorbing heat from the sun. Many people enjoy being on frozen rivers, lakes, and ponds, to skate, ski, or fish. Know the water body you are planning on going out onto. Check ice conditions. Talk to the locals. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles, like we have seen over the last few years, make for very unstable ice. A good cold snap does not guarantee that the ice is safe. Clear blue ice is the strongest, white ice, or snow ice, is half as strong, and grey ice is unsafe as the grey means there’s water in the ice. According to the Red Cross, ice should be at least 15 cm for walking or skating alone, 20 cm for skating parties or games, and 25 cm for snowmobiles.

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