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Ice and Sledding Safety Tips from the NFD

The winter weather has finally arrived in Norwood - here's how to enjoy it safely!

The following is from the Norwood Fire Department's website:

Ice Safety:

  • Always consider ice covered waterways unsafe.
  • As a general rule: 3" or less STAY OFF, 4" (new, clear ice) ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing, 5" (new, clear ice) spread out groups of people, 6” (new, clear ice) pond hockey, sports.
  • The thinnest ice is most often in the center of the water body.
  • Never go out on the ice alone. Have your partner walk a good distance away from you. If you fall through, your partner can call 9-1-1.
  • Never drive on the ice. This includes motor vehicles, ATVs and snowmobiles.
  • Slush on a water body is dangerous. Slush indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.

What should I do if I fall through the ice?

  • Stay calm. Have your partner call 9-1-1.
  • Use ice claws if you have them to pull yourself out of the water. (Ice claws are two ice picks or screwdrivers attached with a cord.)
  • Try to swim onto the ice using your hands and/or ice claws and kicking your feet. If the ice breaks, keep trying. Remember, the thinnest ice is in the center of the water body.
  • Once on the ice do not stand up. Instead try to distribute your weight over a large area by sliding or rolling to shore. Follow the same route you took before you fell in. Your original route was safe until you fell in.

What if I see someone fall through the ice?

  • Stay calm. Call 9-1-1.
  • Tell the person who fell through that you have called for help.
  • Do not attempt to save the person, unless you are professionally trained and have a rescue team with you. If they fell through the ice, you will too.

Here are some tips for keeping your kids safe during the sledding season:

  • Make sure children know that sledding can be dangerous. They’ll be more likely to listen to you if they know their fun could be cut short by bumps, bruises, or even broken bones.
  • Encourage riders to lie on their backs and go feet first down the slope. Alternatively, they can sit face forward on the sled. Either approach will greatly reduce the risk of head injuries.
  • Check the terrain. Many young sledders think that trees, rocks, bare patches, creeks, and other obstacles are just part of sledding. They don’t realize how quickly one of these hazards could put an end to the fun. Make sure the slope is gentle, clear from top to bottom, and doesn't end near a road or freeway.
  •  Keep your child away from makeshift snow ramps. While it may be tempting to go sailing through the air like Evel Knievel, ramps are hazardous and can even be deadly.
  •  Bundle kids up. Younger children are more susceptible than adults to hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening situation where the body temperature falls well below normal. Be sure to check youngsters often, and bring them in right away if they get wet - water and wind can reduce body temperature quickly. Older kids should dress in warm layers. In addition to protecting your child from the elements, proper winter clothing from head to toe can help cushion falls.
  • Consider buying your child a helmet, especially if she or he is under 12. Helmets have become standard equipment for sports such as skateboarding and downhill skiing, and they won’t seem out of place on the sledding hill.
  • Tell your kids to come inside for regular water breaks. Sweating under heavy winter clothing and breathing hard from exertion can cause dehydration.
  • Don't forget the sunscreen. Even though there may not be much skin peeking out from under those heavy coats and caps, sunlight reflecting off the snow can burn it in a hurry.
  • Most of all, watch your young ones to make sure they’re following the rules. Better yet, get your own sled and race them to the bottom. Kids may be fearless, but gravity is on your side.

By following these guidelines the Norwood Fire Department hopes everyone enjoys winter.

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