January is Snow Safety
The Office of the Fire Commissioner, as the coordinating body of Search and Rescue initiatives in Alberta, is a proud supporter of AdventureSmart. That’s why this January we’re focusing on the importance of snow safety. Before you head out this winter in search of exciting snow adventures across Alberta, be sure you are well prepared for the potential dangers that come with playing in snowy, icy and remote areas.
1. Have the right gear.
- Dress in layers to help regulate body temperature.
- Keep your head, ears and hands covered to avoid frostbite.
- Wear your helmet, especially when skiing, skating, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
2. Be avalanche aware.
- Know the avalanche dangers in your area.
- Check avalanche bulletins before heading out.
- Carry and practice with an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel.
- Avalanches involving people don't occur randomly. Over 90 per cent of the time, the victims or someone in their group triggers the snow slide.
- Be avalanche aware in Alberta, and when visiting other areas, such as BC's backcountry.
3. Respect boundaries.
- Going out-of-bounds is extremely dangerous.
- You not only endanger your life, but also the lives of search and rescue volunteers.
4. Ski and snowboard responsibly.
- Know and follow the Alpine Responsibility Code.
- If a run is closed, respect the signage and never ski out of bounds.
5. Snowmobile safely.
- Keep your speed slow enough to stay in control of your snowmobile.
- Alcohol use is a leading cause of snowmobiling-related fatalities.
- Respect closed areas.
- Ensure you're properly trained and equipped to survive a night outside.
6. Test the ice.
- Check ice thickness before heading out.
- Always stay off ice that is 7cm (3 in) or less.
- The minimum ice depth for ice fishing, walking, and cross country skiing is 10cm (4 in).
- The minimum ice depth for one snowmobile or ATV is 12cm (5 in).
7. If you break through the ice, know what to do.
- Don't panic. Your clothing will trap air and keep you buoyant.
- Turn towards the direction you came from and place your hands and arms flat on the unbroken surface.
- Kick your feet and try to push yourself up on top of the unbroken ice on your stomach, like a seal.
- Once you are lying on the ice, don't stand up. Roll away from the break until you are on solid ice.
8. Leave a trip plan.
- Your trip plan explains your destination, travel route, equipment, and expected return time.
- This vital information can help search and rescue volunteers, in case of an emergency.
Sharing Snow Safety Information
The Office of the Fire Commissioner has developed an 11"x17" snow safety poster for use by community groups and fire departments. Please help spread the message about snow safety this winter. An alternate version of the poster is also available.
Please help the Office of the Fire Commissioner by sharing information about snow safety on social media.