Stay safe by staying off frozen water

With the snow and icy conditions set to continue, we are urging people to stay safe by staying off frozen water.

There are grave dangers of walking on frozen lakes and waterways when temperatures in the UK stay around freezing, so please take extra care and keep away from frozen water during the cold snap.

A number of lakes and reservoirs may freeze and, whilst they may look enticing as a skating opportunity, the ice is a very dangerous place.

Dog owners must be careful around frozen water and not throw sticks or balls onto ice. Should a dog go onto the ice and get into difficulty don't attempt to carry out a rescue.

Most reservoirs have a shelving slope before they drop off into deeper water and it's extremely dangerous if people venture on to ice not knowing how deep the water is below them and particularly how thick or, in most cases, how thin the ice is they are standing on.

Safety advice - what do do if you see someone fall through the ice

Never venture onto frozen ponds and lakes, now matter how safe it looks.

If you see someone fall through the ice:

  • Shout for assistance and send for the emergency services - call 999 or 112 - it's a free call from any phone

  • Stay off the ice

  • Shout to the casualty to keep still

  • Try and reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, a tree branch, clothing tied together or anything else that extends your reach

  • When reaching for the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice

  • If you cannot reach them, slide something that floats like a rescue buoy across the ice for them to hold on to stay afloat

  • If the casualty is out of reach, wait for the emergency services while calming and reassuring them

After the casualty has been rescued from the ice:

  • Make sure the ambulance is on its way

  • Lay them flat, check their breathing and pulse and begin resuscitation if necessary

  • Prevent them from getting colder by putting them in a sleeping bag or covering them including their head, with blankets or spare clothing

  • Get them under shelter out of the cold

  • Until the casualty is in a warm place do not undress them

  • Do not rub their skin

  • Keep them wrapped up so that they warm up gradually

If you fall through the ice:

  • Keep calm and call for help

  • If no help is available spread your arms across the surface of the ice

  • If the ice is strong enough kick your legs and slide onto the ice

  • Lie flat and pull yourself to the bank

  • If the ice is very thin, break it in front of you and make your way to the shore

  • If you cannot climb out, wait for help keeping as still as possible

  • Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together

  • Once you are safe, go to hospital immediately for a check up.

Staywise - Ice safety educational resources (new window, PDF 5629KB)

Last updated: Thursday 15 December 2022