London Fire Brigade

Playing on frozen ponds bothers firefighters

19 January 2015

Unlike the famous song from Frozen the cold does bother firefighters as people risk their lives by playing on icy lakes and ponds during the big freeze.

We’re concerned that unless people take care, they could see an increase in the number of cold weather related incidents such as people falling through ice, floods caused by frozen pipes, and fires caused by electric heaters.

Can’t let it go

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Peter Cowup said:

“Playing on frozen ponds or canals isn’t something we can let go as it’s extremely dangerous especially when children decide to go out on the ice. We also see a number of people who put themselves in danger by attempting to rescue pets that have become stranded or trapped, and then they also need to be rescued by the Brigade.

“It’s not possible for people to gauge the thickness and to determine the weight that an ice covered surface will support so it’s not safe to step onto the ice, particularly as you move away from the edge and towards the middle, where ice often gets thinner.

“In these freezing conditions we’d also ask that people lag your pipes to prevent your home from flooding, and be extremely careful with electric heaters to prevent fires.”

Trained crews

The Brigade said its crews are trained and equipped with equipment including emergency rescue boats, inflatable rescue paths, mud lances, thermal clothing and dry suits, to be used in case anyone does get stuck on, or in, an icy lake or pond.

Stats and advice

Electric heaters have caused 427 fires, 10 deaths and nearly 80 injuries over the past five winters and despite heaters starting only five per cent of the capital’s electrical fires, a third of fatal electrical fires involved heaters.

Due to the unpredictable and extremely hazardous conditions that exist on frozen water surfaces the London Fire Brigade is urging members of the public to ensure: 

• That they are aware of the location of any ponds/lakes in the area and avoid walking on the frozen surface

• Children are closely supervised at all times

• Pets are kept under control and are not allowed to stray onto an ice covered surface