With ice newly forming on local ponds, the Grande Prairie Fire Department is warning that it may be too early to step foot on it.

“This time of year it’s just forming so were not sure of the thickness of the ice. It’s very important to make sure the ice is at least two inches, closer to four inches before it’s safe to be skating on or playing around on,” says Platoon Chief Dennis Mossey.

He adds that the department has seen pictures on social media of youth playing on the ice but says so far they’ve been lucky.

“We haven’t had a lot of ice rescue calls here. We’ve had the odd animal go through that we’ve had to go assist out of the water but most people have been pretty good about staying off the ice.”

If someone sees a person or an animal fall through the ice, Mossey says they should always stay on land and call the professionals for help.

“If somebody falls through the ice the best thing to do is call 911. Stay in voice contact with the person and try and reassure them that help is on the way.”

“We have insulated suits and different devices that we can go out on the ice so we’d rather just rescue one person instead of two,” he adds.

Ice should always be checked with inspection holes before stepping out on it.