Are You Skating on Thin Ice?

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The outdoor pond beckons you again this year, inviting you to take the day off and enjoy the winter surroundings. Year after year, you look forward to seasonal activities like skating, ice-fishing and walking along the perimeter of the pond. You’ve lived in the same place for years, after all, and you’ve trusted the conditions many times. The likelihood of any cracks or holes is almost non-existent. But, this year is different. The weather wasn’t nearly as cold, even though the pond still froze over. You know you’ll be fine, and you proceed with your normal enjoyment – or so you think.

A recent case in Canada had a tragic ending when a grandfather and grandson both fell through the ice on a neighborhood pond. Many professional and amateur ice-skaters and hockey players suffer injuries to the face from skate blades. Others drown in ice-related injuries, and about half of those who are injured are rescuers attempting to rescue someone else who has already fallen through the surface. Many ice-related injuries occur in or on ponds and lakes in our own yards or neighborhoods, and at public indoor ice rinks.

If you, like so many others who reside in cooler climates, look forward to the ritual of ice skating or ice fishing, you’ll want to ensure precautions to avoid falling through the ice or being injured during a favorite activity. Here are some elements of which to be aware:

  • When skating, know your surroundings and be aware of others on the ice.
  • Don’t attempt any reckless behavior on the ice.
  • Don’t drive a vehicle on the ice unless the area is designated for vehicle travel.
  • Make sure ice shavings are removed from the ice on a regular basis.
  • If walking on a iced-over lake or pond, use a probing device to check for thinner areas on ice.
  • Stay close to shore, or let someone what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be.
  • Waterproof your cell phone when carrying it on your body.
  • Observe all signs that are in place for public lakes and ponds; there may be a reason why there is a “no skating” sign posted.
  • Know what to do if you do fall through the ice (many websites can provide demonstrations or instructions for helping yourself stay safe until someone arrives).
  • Supervise kids at all times, and enlist a buddy instead of exploring on your own.

Those who live in areas where snowfall is abundant look forward to the annual powder for recreational activities. These activities help us create lasting holiday traditions that will always be important to us, and sadly, we don’t always put safety first. If you’ve been injured in an ice-related accident, there could be many entities involved depending on whether the pond, lake or facility was privately or publicly-managed or maintained. A practiced attorney in personal injury will know the guidelines and limitations for finding out who is to blame. After all, safe traditions are the best ones of all.