As temperatures fluctuate and people make their way to their cabins and hunting camps, reports of at least four vehicles falling through the ice in November have a local life saving instructor reminding people of the Town of Inuvik’s free life jacket loaner program.
Environment and Natural Resources Beaufort Delta Region posted a notice mid-November of vehicles falling through the ice along with a reminder that anyone who does fall through the ice is required to phone ENR and report it or face a fine.
In response, Life Saving Society instructor and trainer Bob Everett said he wanted to remind anyone going on the land — or perhaps more accurately on the water — that life preservers are readily available for anyone to use at the Midnight Sun Complex.
“The ice is getting thick, but we’re also having overflows and stuff like that,” said Everett. “Life jackets and personal flotation devices are not just for the summertime. They’re for anybody going out on to the water whether its boats, skidoos, sleds, cross country skiing or snowshoeing.”
Noting that while engineered ice roads are set up for heavy weights, ice off the beaten track is far less predictable, even when temperatures are as cold as they have gotten around the holidays.
Wearing a life preserver, he notes, provides much-needed time for someone who falls through the ice to assess the situation and avoid panicking, which can save their life.
“Life jackets will prevent loss of life as they are a positive buoyancy device,” said Everett. “The ice roads opened up and then all of a sudden they were closed because there was an overflow of water on top of it. Even though it may look safe to go out onto the Mackenzie, who knows what’s underneath.
“People don’t go out and say ‘Oh, it’s four inches therefore I can have my skidoo, oh it’s six inches, therefore I can have my car, oh it’s 10 inches therefore I can have a cube van, oh it’s 12 inches therefore I can have a transport truck. People don’t think about that stuff.”
An ENR posting notes that fuel, oil and other fluids from vehicles can contaminate water, hence the need to report any cases where a car, truck or snowmobile falls through ice. Reports can be done for free by calling 1-867-920-8130 or on their website at www.enr.gov.nt.ca/en/services/report-spill.
As for lifejackets, Everett noted anyone who needs them can borrow them free of charge by phoning the front desk of the MSC at 777-8640.
“It’s the same deal as it was in the summer — you can book them out as long as you need them,” he said. “There are alternatives to just going out without a life jacket or PFD.
“Let’s get real here. We don’t want to lose lives just because we want to take our sled out onto the Mackenzie.”