Ice Thickness: Do You Know What is Safe?


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 4, 2017  10:30am 

(Ottawa) – With recent cold temperatures, rivers, lakes and the Rideau Canal have begun to freeze, but looks can be deceiving. What ice thickness is safe?

Here’s what you need to know before going out onto the ice:

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

According to the Canadian Red Cross, many factors affect ice thickness including: type of water, location, the time of year and other environmental factors such as:

  • Water depth and size of body of water
  • Currents, tides and other moving water
  • Fluctuations in water levels
  • Changing air temperature

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; it indicates the presence of water.

When in doubt, simply stay off the ice.

More ice safety tips are available from the Canadian Red Cross or the National Capital Commission.