The inconsistent ice situation across Finland has contributed to a higher than usual number of drownings. A total of 11 people drowned in January-February this year, compared to 4 a year ago. There have also been about 50 near misses related to falling through ice. The Accident Day on the 13th of March reminds people of safety on ice. One must always go onto ice with the idea that the ice can give out even in familiar places.
This winter, some parts of the country have been left without ice, and the ice conditions vary greatly between north and south. Where there is ice, staying safe requires proper equipment and knowledge of dangerous locations.
”Because of the flow of water, places such as rivers, lake narrows, reefs, points, estuaries, reeds, fairways, bridges and piers are places of danger”, says Niko Nieminen, Communications Specialist at the Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation.
Cold water stiffens, and ending up in water without proper safety equipment can be fatal. Moving on ice should be avoided unless one is absolutely sure that it will hold throughout the area. A wise winter boater wears a life jacket and takes the dangers of hypothermia into account.
Accident Day reminder: a friend is your best piece of safety equipment
The minimum equipment when moving on ice includes ice picks hanging around the neck ready for use, an ice chisel for checking the strength of the ice and a whistle. A spare set of clothes should be packed in a backpack and a mobile phone close to body heat, both in a watertight manner. To help others, a rope or a throw line should be placed in the side pocket of the backpack.
”A friend is your best piece of safety equipment, whether you are on familiar ice or in a new area. A friend can call for help and rescue you if needed”, Nieminen points out.
There should be at least 5 cm and preferably 10 cm of clear ice to hold an adult. Snowmobiles and ATVs require an ice cover of at least 15 cm, and cars should only travel on marked routes.
Information and material on accidents
Follow the series of articles on different types of accidents changing monthly on the campaign website at tapaturmapäivä.fi. The site provides tips on preventing accidents and mapping hazards. In addition to this, the site offers statistics and free materials, such as pictures and posters.
Friday the 13th is Accident Day
Accident Day makes people think about how to reduce the risk of accidents at home and work and in traffic. The date varies every year, because Accident Days always take place on Friday the 13th. Accident prevention work is carried out in cooperation between organisations and authorities.
Niko Nieminen, Communications Specialist, Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL), tel. +358 (0)400 469 202, firstname.lastname@example.org
Saara Aakko, Planning Officer, The Finnish Red Cross, tel. +358 (0)40 480 6973, email@example.com
Statistics and materials
Ice safety etiquette (in Finnish)
‘Järki jäällä’ ice safety guide (in Finnish)
Ice safety checklist (in Finnish)
Viisaasti Vesillä – instructions for safety on ice (in Finnish)