Staying off ice advised

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With unseasonably warm temperatures in Airdrie for most of December, Airdrie RCMP and the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) are asking residents to avoid the ice on the city’s waterways.

“The ice conditions are extremely hazardous right now,” said Deputy Fire Chief Garth Rabel. “We just have to make sure that we’re very cautious around the natural waterways throughout our community because ice conditions are extremely unstable and extremely dangerous as well.

“People have been phoning us and saying there are kids down on the creek and we have to make sure parents and everybody in the community understands that the risk is there.”

After a relatively cold November, with average temperatures of -4 C, Airdrie has experienced higher than normal temperatures so far in December. The average temperature in December has hovered around the 8 C mark, according to data from the AccuWeather website.

While the warmer temperatures may make the idea of playing outside more enticing for kids, RCMP is asking everyone to use caution.

“We just don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” said Const. Jarom Leafloor of the Airdrie RCMP. “We’re all for kids getting out to enjoy the outdoors and play some hockey on the ice but, this holiday season they may have to resort to road hockey instead. Please take the time to talk to your children about these hazards.”

The weather took a turn Dec. 19 when a snowfall warning was issued for Airdrie and area and temperatures dropped to a more seasonal range of between -8C and -13 C. With the snowfall, all fears of a brown Christmas seem to have disappeared.

According to the Canadian Red Cross, there are a number of things that factor into when it’s safe to go out on the ice, including ice thickness, the depth and size of the body of water and the colour of the ice. Clear ice is safer than opaque ice, of which grey ice indicates the presence of water. To be safe, ice must be 15 centimetres (cms) thick for walking or skating safely alone and 20 cms thick for groups of skaters to skate safely.

Rabel said although firefighters are trained in ice rescue, residents should stay off the natural waterways and outdoor ponds.

“Our stand will always be to use the manmade outdoor rinks as these are the safe ice conditions that can be confirmed for recreational use,” he said.

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