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OPP cautions snowmobilers against crossing ice

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As riders rev up their snowmobiles for the season, the OPP is reminding that no ice is safe ice.

Any time you ride onto a frozen lake, river, or pond, you run the risk of falling through the ice into frigid water. Gosia Puzio with Central Region OPP says fluctuating temperatures this year have made surface ice both fragile and unpredictable.

If you break through the ice, Puzio says, you endanger not only yourself but anyone coming to your rescue.

“When you fall into the water, you have about one minute to gain control of your breathing, about 10 minutes of meaningful movement, and about an hour before hypothermia sets in and you lose consciousness,” says Puzio. “[Ice] is very dangerous, very unpredictable.”

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According to Puzio, riding across the ice is never safe, and preparations should be made accordingly.

“You can reach out to local groups that can help you determine whether the thickness of the ice will support your weight,” says Puzio. “But keep in mind that ice is very, very unsafe, and any time you do venture out, never go alone and be prepared to self-rescue.”

To that end, Puzio recommends wearing a buoyant floatation suit, always keeping your helmet fastened at the chin, and having an ice pick and heaving tow line on hand. She adds that alcohol and water don’t mix, especially in freezing temperatures: never ride impaired.

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