Parks Canada is reminding those planning to skate on frozen lakes in the mountains to be aware of ice thickness.
The warning comes after four people fell through ice on Lake Minnewanka, Alta. — which is northeast of Banff — over a two-day period.
According to Parks Canada, three of the individuals were able to self-rescue, but the Banff Fire Department said one woman in her 20s was in the water for about 30 minutes before being pulled out.
The fire department said a man who tried to help the woman also partially fell through the ice.
Parks Canada and the Banff Fire Department brought the pair to safety. The woman was taken to hospital with hypothermia, while the man was assessed at the scene but did not require further care.
The deputy fire chief said the man and woman unknowingly ventured onto a section of the lake where the ice was thin.
Parks Canada said ice thickness varies on the lake, and skaters should avoid it unless it is at least 15 centimetres thick.
“As this is an artificial reservoir, water level varies throughout the winter, and ice can be cracked near the shoreline. Winds can be strong on this 30-kilometre long lake. Skaters can be pushed out by the winds and may not be able to skate back. Bring boots to walk back or stay close to your starting point. The lake is large — be aware that help can be a long way away if you get into trouble.”
Parks Canada added that it “does not monitor natural ice surfaces for safety or mark potential hazards,” and if people skate on natural ice, they’re doing it at their own risk.
Skaters are also encouraged to have equipment available for self-rescue, such as rope, ice picks and personal floating devices.
Naween Mohammed skated on the lake on Sunday.
“It’s definitely going to make me a little more cautious,” Mohammed told Global News. “I’m not going to skate on the outer edges. I’m not going to go out too far.”
– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small