Warmer weather brings fresh hazards

East York residents are urged to exercise caution near all bodies of water over the coming weeks.

The city is warning the public of the dangers caused by changing weather conditions during the spring melt period, which could lead to unstable stream banks and rapidly rising water levels.

Laurian Farrell, chief flood duty officer at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), said that despite lighter snowfall than usual this winter, earlier than normal ice breakup and above average flows within watersheds are causing hazardous conditions.

“As melting ice and snow runs into our rivers and streams, the water is extremely powerful,” she said. Moreover, the water is “very cold, making it difficult to recover if you fall in.”

Farrell said that anyone enjoying the outdoors this spring should pay particular attention to children and pets venturing close to shorelines, because precipitation and freezing overnight temperatures may cause slippery and unstable surfaces along the water’s edge. In addition, layers of thinning ice on many ponds can be deceptive, she said.

“It’s important to not assume that just because an area was covered in seemingly solid ice yesterday, it’s stable to walk on today,” Farrell said.

The TRCA advises people to stay at least three metres from the edge of a waterway during rainy weather. It is also recommended that anyone going for a walk near a river, pond, lake or creek notify a friend or family member of their route and the time they expect to be home.

People should not attempt to rescue a person or animal that has fallen into a waterway as they too could be overcome by powerful currents and extremely cold temperatures, The TRCA says that, instead, people should call 911 immediately.

For more safety tips, visit www.trca.on.ca