It’s freezing in the Netherlands. Although skating on the frozen waters of Tilburg is worth braving the cold for, you should be cautious when stepping onto the ice. Here are some essential ice safety tips.
Never venture out on the ice alone
According to the Dutch Skating Federation (KNSB), most fatal accidents happen when someone ventures out on the ice alone. When you’re going to walk or skate on natural ice, always bring at least one buddy with you. Someone needs to be able to alert authorities when anything does go wrong.
Know where to go
Not all waters are safe to stand or skate on. Deep waters take longer to freeze, so it’s best to look for shallow waters. In Tilburg, the water of the Piushaven has been safely tested by the first ice skaters. You can check the Brabants Dagblad Ice Map for more skating-proof waters in your area.
Check the color of the ice
The color of the ice may indicate its strength. Look for black ice—frozen waters that appear black in color are generally strong. Also, beware of any discolorations. Color differences may indicate differences in ice thickness.
Don’t trust ice near bridges, reed beds and sunken tree branches
Ice near bridges, reed beds and bushes is often not safe. Also beware of tree branches sticking out from the frozen water. The ice is probably weak here.
Ice near the water’s edge is weak
Keep in mind that ice near the edge of a pond or lake is always weaker. When getting onto the ice, take a big step. And once you’re on it, don’t walk or skate too close to the edges.
Watch out for ‘windvakken’
Although temperatures remain below zero all day, the strong winds that are currently blowing are making it more difficult for lakes to freeze over. This makes the ice unreliable. You should be extra careful and look out for ‘windvakken’, spots on the lake that are only covered by a very thin layer of ice or that remain unfrozen. These spots can be recognized by their discolored edges. Watch out for areas on the ice where you see yellow-white discolorations.
Get home before dark
Never go out onto the ice when the sun is down. It’s extremely dangerous to be on the ice after dark, so make sure that you get home on time after a day of winter fun!