Ice Safety

Ottawa Police Officer from Marine Dive Unit being lowered into icey waters.

Life preserver on a boat.

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When water begins to freeze on rivers, lakes, the Rideau Canal and other open bodies of water, it may look solid but is often still dangerous. If you want to go out onto the ice, remember the thickness should be:

  • 15 cm for walking or skating alone
  • 20 cm for skating parties or games
  • 25 cm for snowmobiles
  • 35 cm for fishing huts

    Person stepping on thin ice.

As a guideline, clear blue ice is usually the strongest; white opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Grey ice is unsafe. The greyness indicates the presence of water.

Before venturing onto the ice, check the Lifesaving Society's guidelines for staying safe, and review guidelines by The Canadian Red Cross on what to do if you get into trouble on the ice. When in doubt, simply stay away from the ice, period.

Thumbnail of Ottawa Police diver in the water