Updated: reducing the risks caused by ice during outdoor activities

Updated: reducing the risks caused by ice during outdoor activities

Snow and ice can pose many different hazards

In the light of recent tragic events, the OEAP has updated two National Guidance documents with regard to the risks posed by cold weather during outdoor activities in the winter months.

Document 7.2j Weather and Group Safety has a new section “Snow and ice”.

7.2i Group Safety at Water Margins includes a new element called “Ice”.


The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) produces National Guidance, which provides comprehensive support for the management of high-quality outdoor learning, educational visits and adventurous activities.


7.2j Weather and Group Safety lists the potential hazards that a cold spell can bring about, from slippery driving conditions to the risks posed by thin ice on ponds, lakes and rivers.

“These hazards can be constantly changing and pose serious risks in terrain that is otherwise familiar and benign. When there is snow or ice around, you should be vigilant and constantly exercise dynamic risk assessment and management.”

Improvised activities such as sledging or skating on a frozen pond can be worthwhile and tempting, but can pose serious risks. The risks involved should always be fully assessed before deciding whether to proceed with the activity, says the guidance document.

The update on 7.2i Group Safety at Water Margins deals more specifically with the risks posed by ice.

“When ice forms on a pond, lake or river, it can be tempting to venture out onto it. However, this can be extremely dangerous, and lives are lost every winter when people fall through the ice. You should not allow participants to venture onto frozen surfaces unless you are absolutely certain that it is safe to do so.”

Even when the ice is thick, there can be dangers involve in venturing onto it. For example:

  • It is easy to fall and bang your head
  • The ice on a river or reservoir can collapse when water drains from
    underneath it.

The guidance also draws attention to the Royal Life Saving Society advice on winter water safety.

The downloads also contain direct links a variety of other supporting OEAP National Guidance documents.


Download OEAP National Guidance document 7.2j Weather and Group Safety »

Download OEAP National Guidance document 7.2i Group Safety at Water Margins »

An introduction to OEAP National Guidance »

: Adventure activities : Learning Outside the Classroom : Offsite visits : Outdoor learning : Risk management : Safeguarding : Transport Essential