Kamloops Fire Rescue Asks Residents to Stay Away from River Ice

Release date: 
February 17, 2021

Kamloops, BC — The recent cold snap has caused sections of the North and South Thompson Rivers to freeze in a matter of a few days, making it extremely dangerous for the public and for rescuers.

Kamloops Fire Rescue (KFR) is urging residents to avoid venturing on the ice themselves and to keep a close eye on their pets. “Every year, KFR responds to reports of pets falling through the ice, often because they were chasing after wildlife or another pet,” said Jamie Chase, KFR’s Public Fire and Life Safety Educator. "Occasionally, we have to rescue pet owners when they attempt to go after their pets and end up falling through themselves. If your pet breaks through the ice, call 911. We will respond—do not risk going on to the ice yourself."

Regardless of how cold the weather has been, river ice is always unpredictable due to the water currents. The ice could be very thick or extremely thin, but it will often look the same from the surface. It first forms as pack ice with extremely weak seams, especially where strong current is flowing beneath it. Pack ice can break loose in very large sections without warning. Due to the annual shifting of the river bottom, areas that may have been very shallow water or sandbars in the past may be deep water now.

What to do if you fall through ice into water:

  • Stay calm and try to keep your head is out of the water and control your breathing.
  • Call for help and keep your hands on the ice shelf.
  • Try to pull yourself up on the ice on your stomach and roll towards the shore where the ice may be thicker.
  • If you can't get out of the water in less than 10 minutes, stop kicking and trying to pull yourself out and anchor yourself to the ice shelf. Continue to call for help.

What to do if you witness a person falling through the ice:

  • Stay back and call for help; call 911.
  • If the person does get out the water, on to the ice or the shore, reach or throw an aid, such as a branch, or rope, to the person. Do not approach; allow professional help to assist.