April 16, 2020
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is asking Edmontonians to stay off the North Saskatchewan River and away from the river banks.
“Snow and ice on the North Saskatchewan River are never safe to walk on,” said Acting Fire Chief Brad Hoekstra. “Swift moving ice poses a very high risk. The hard truth is that if you get swept under an ice shelf by a current, we can’t get to you.”
Since April 1, Edmonton Fire Rescue Service has responded to nine river rescue calls. Three of these calls occurred on the same day.
There are many factors that contribute to the unpredictability of the river including debris, warmer temperatures and radiant heat. Swift moving water is relentless, especially as the ice begins to breakup. Choosing to walk on the river puts you, your family and emergency responders at extreme risk, especially at this time of year. Stormwater lakes and ponds should also be avoided. No matter how thick you think the ice is, there can be weak areas.
In addition to the risk of becoming trapped beneath an ice shelf, individuals who fall into the water also face hypothermia. Typically, this means an individual has between two to three minutes before they lose the use of their arms and legs, preventing chances of a self-rescue.
Residents who witness someone fall through the ice are urged to:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Establish and maintain a point of reference where the individual was last seen.
- Never attempt to rescue an individual or pet that has fallen through the ice.