The recent plunge in temperature has brought about potentially hazardous conditions 

With rivers and storm ponds being so common in the Foothills, it's prompted a reminder from the Okotoks Fire Department.

Fire Chief Trevor Brice is already noticing conditions that make the Sheep River appear deceptively calm.

"I went over the bridge on Southridge yesterday. You could see the water flowing but also the snow formed on the ice. It's really treacherous, people are starting to go out there thinking it's safe because the snow is on the ice, but the ice is very weak."

The appearance of a layer of strong ice on the river's surface is likely to remain for a few days while the temperature remains close to -20.

Brice says the water under the ice is often running as fast as ever, and if someone were to get picked up by the current, it'd be a lot harder to break out from beneath it than it would be to fall through it.

"The water flows underneath the ice and erodes it from beneath and you can't tell that from the top. Stay where the usual pathways are and just take a nice look at the river, don't go onto it."

Stormponds are also deceptively dangerous in freezing conditions.

"We use the stormwater management ponds to collect and store water runoff. This helps reduce flood risk, control erosion, and collect pollutants. The ice that forms on them can appear thick but the water below is actually still flowing. That's where the problem comes. It contains salt and runoff from the roads and that has a lower freezing point than fresh water. The ice is thinner and weaker," says Brice.

Okotoks has a bylaw in place stating that no one can enter or skate on storm ponds for that very reason.

Though local fire personnel are equipped to perform river reduces even in the colder months, Brice says it's always a big risk for everyone involved.

"Our firefighters are trained for water rescue, they're trained for ice rescue, in fact, we're planning on doing some training where our guys will test that equipment to make sure we're up to par and up to speed. But we hope we never have to use that and those skills. When we do, someone is in jeopardy, it's someone's worst day. The cold alone can do some really severe damage."