Toronto - While frozen rivers, ponds, and sections of Lake Ontario might entice people to head out for a skate, the City of Toronto reminds residents that it is unsafe to skate or play on frozen open water.

“Venturing out onto frozen open bodies of water can be extremely dangerous - even life-threatening,” said Lou Di Gironimo, General Manager of Toronto Water. “Even if the ice at the water’s edge seems safe, it’s always weaker as you get farther out. Our message is: ‘Stay safe - and stay off ’.”

A number of factors impact ice quality and user safety. In recent years, Toronto’s winter weather has changed. Fluctuations in the temperature contribute to the inconsistent formation of ice on open water. The use of road salt can make its way into Toronto’s lakes, rivers, streams and ponds increasing ice instability. Storm water sewers also drain into retention ponds, many of which are located in City parks, including High Park’s Grenadier Pond.

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has posted signage to warn people of the dangers of frozen open bodies of water. The signage supports a new City policy that prohibits skating and other recreational activities on frozen open water, including storm water management ponds located on public parkland.

“Don’t put yourself or your family at risk by skating on frozen open water,” said Brenda Librecz, General Manager of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. “To stay healthy, fit - and safe - this winter, skate at artificial outdoor ice rinks and arenas throughout the city.”

If someone falls through the ice, call 9-1-1. Do not put yourself in danger. Throw a flotation device, rope, extension cord, ladder or long pole to hold onto. If they manage to get out, try to dry them off and keep them warm until emergency personnel arrive.

Information about Toronto’s indoor arenas and outdoor ice rinks is available by calling 416-338-RINK (7465) or online at www.toronto.ca/parks - click on the “Skating & Ice Rinks” quick link.