WITH the snow and icy conditions set to last for several days, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging people to stay safe by staying off frozen water.

The warning is issued as part of the dervice’s Winter Safety Campaign, and follows a series of warnings for drivers to take care on the roads during the current weather conditions.

Station Commander Alan Haley from HWFRS’s Community Safety department said: “With temperatures at or below freezing and set to remain low into next week, many of the lakes, ponds and canals across the two counties will be frozen, and we want to make sure people stay alert to the dangers this presents.”

He urged people to stay off frozen lakes, ponds, rivers and canals for their own safety, explaining that even with prolonged cold spells, the thickness of the ice layer can vary considerably, and is unlikely to be strong enough to hold a person’s weight safely.

He added: “We’d urge people not to step on to the ice at all, and certainly not to be tempted to skate, rescue an animal or retrieve a ball - as they could easily fall though into the water, or get trapped below the ice, risking hypothermia or even drowning.”

He urged parents and teachers alike to discuss the dangers of water and ice with children, and also reminded parents and guardians not to leave children unsupervised near open water.

HWFRS’s key safety advice for frozen water include not going onto ice-covered lakes, ponds, rivers or canals, being aware that the ice closest to the bank may appear to be thick but may become thinner in other areas, if a dog or another animal falls through the ice, do not go to its rescue because if the ice did not support the animal, it will not take your weight either and never put yourself at risk – instead call 999.