Men, machines fall through Conestogo Lake ice

On Feb. 1 at about 2:35pm Wellington County OPP received a report of a snowmobile falling through the ice on Conestogo Lake.

County of Wellington OPP officers, along with the Mapleton Fire Department and paramedics from the Guelph-Wellington EMS responded to the scene.

Police say a male operating an ATV went through the ice while attempting to come to the aid of his friend, whose snowmobile went through the ice. Police say a rescue was not required, as the two males were able to reach the shore without assistance from emergency personnel. The males did not require medical assistance.

Wellington County OPP officials would like to remind everyone to exercise caution around   frozen lakes and waterways. Winter weather conditions can be unpredictable and variable, and proper equipment and experience is necessary to have a safe winter season on the ice.

Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers. This can be particularly evident at the start of the winter season when near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice further out. Anglers should check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as they move further out on the ice.

Ice that has formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.

Clear blue ice is the strongest. White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice that has a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided altogether.

Traveling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can be particularly dangerous and added precautions must be taken. At least 20 centimeters (eight inches) of clear blue ice is required for snowmobiles and 30 centimeters (12 inches) or more is needed for most light vehicles. Double this amount if the ice is white or opaque.

Heavy snow on frozen lakes and rivers can insulate the ice below, causing the ice to freeze slower.