2007-02-22 / Top Stories

Parks Dept. Warns Of Dangers On City Lakes & Ponds

City Parks Department employees demonstrate ice rescue in Central Park last week.City Parks Department employees demonstrate ice rescue in Central Park last week. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Ben-epe last week issueed ice safety tips before Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers demonstrated an ice rescue at Conservatory Waters in Central Park.

During the winter months, children and adults enjoy exploring the snowy terrain in city parks, but ponds and lakes may appear frozen and venturing onto them is extremely dangerous and can cause potentially fatal accidents.

"Park visitors should not venture onto a frozen water bod," Benepe said, "unless they are explicitly notified by Parks & Recreation staff at a specifically-designated area that it is safe for skating."

Determining the strength of ice is extremely difficult, especially for an untrained individual. Ice must be at least six inches thick before it can maintain the weight of a person, and to freeze to the right thickness, the temperature must be well below freezing for weeks. Moreover, ice strength is affected by the depth of the water, the size of the water body, the water's chemistry, the distribution of weight on the ice, and local climatic factors. To remind people of the dangers of thin ice, Parks & Recreation posts warning signs along the perimeter of the City's lakes and ponds. Special ladders are also installed around the edges for trained personnel to use in the event of an emergency.

Parks & Recreation offers the following safety tips to ensure park patrons remain safe:

+ Never go on frozen waters (unless clearly marked otherwise with official signs).

+ Parents and caregivers should make sure children are never unattended near ice.

+ If you hear cracking, lie down immediately to try to distribute your weight.

+ If you witness someone falling through ice, never attempt to make a rescue by yourself.

+ Call 911 and notify the proper authorities.

+ Be sure to give the exact location and an account of the incident.

Ice skating rinks in parks throughout the city offer a safe way to celebrate the cold weather: Brooklyn's Abe Stark Rink on Coney Island and Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park, and Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink in Central Park, City Building Rink in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and War Memorial Rink on Staten Island.

Also, should the ice become strong enough, Parks & Recreation will designate safe-skating areas in large spray shower basins and other shallow water spots throughout the five boroughs. Signs will be clearly posted to show that these areas are safe for winter sports. For locations and times of winter activities in city parks, visit www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311.

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