Ice Safety this Winter

The lake on campus covered in snow

With the temperature dropping this winter it has been very icy outside, so Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have given us their advice on ice safety this winter.

Make sure you are careful around water in winter. Frozen water is dangerous and can have fatal consequences.

Our Advice:

  • Never venture onto frozen water. Even if it appears thick from the bank, it can easily break and you do not know how deep the water is below or how thin the ice is.
  • Do not be tempted to test the thickness of the ice. It is easy to slip from the bank and fall through into the freezing water.
  • Time your walks to make the most of the daylight; if you need to walk in the evening only use well-lit areas or take a route that avoids water.
  • Do not wander near the edge, icy or wet conditions could cause you to slip.

What to do if you fall through the ice:

  • Keep calm and shout for help.
  • Spread your arms across the surface of the ice in front of you.
  • If the ice is strong enough, kick your legs to slide onto the ice.
  • Lie flat and pull yourself towards the bank.
  • If the ice breaks, work your way to the bank-breaking the ice in front of you. If you cannot climb out, wait for help and keep as still as possible. Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together. Keep your head clear of the water.
  • Once you are safe, go to the hospital.

If you see someone fall through ice:

  • Shout for assistance and phone 999.
  • Do not walk or climb onto the ice to attempt a rescue.
  • Shout to the casualty to ‘keep still’ and offer reassurance to keep them calm.
  • Try to reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, tree branch, or anything else which can extend your reach, such as clothing tied together.
  • When reaching from the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice
  • If you cannot reach them, slide something which floats across the ice for them to hold onto whilst help is on the way.
  • If the casualty is too far away, do not attempt to rescue them. Wait for the emergency services and continue to reassure the casualty.
  • Make sure an ambulance has been called.
  • Lay the casualty flat, check for normal breathing.
  • Prevent them from getting colder by covering them with warm clothing and blankets.
  • Create some shelter and get them out of the cold if possible.
  • Do not rub their skin and do not apply hot water bottles.

If you see anything that doesn’t look right on campus, please contact the security services:

  • University Security Team emergency number: 0118 378 6300.
  • University Security Team non-emergency number: 0118 378 7799 or

Please see our blog Student Services Over the Festive Period for more information and contacts on service opening times this Christmas.

We wish you a happy and safe winter period!

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