Warnings issued over thin ice and advent wreaths

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Fishermen, skaters and anyone else tempted to venture onto the ice were warned Wednesday not to do so, with the possibility of a hefty fine if they ignore the warning and risk the lives of not only themselves but of rescuers. 

Sub-zero temperatures during the past week have seen many bodies of water start to freeze over, but Riga municipal authorities said Wednesday it was starting an official "high risk" period to make it clear that conditions are not yet safe.

With immediate effect standing on the ice is prohibited, and police are empowered to make sure the public is aware of the fact, with a potential €71 fine for those ignoring the advice.

If emergency services are called to the rescue, the fine can climb to €350 in an attempt to claw back some of the unnecessary costs of such selfish actions.

The start and finish of the ice fishing season usually racks up several deaths as fishermen ignore warnings and walk onto unsafe ice.

Combined with a spate of other tragedies during the summer months, rescue workers have already pulled 149 drowned individuals from Latvia's sea, rivers and lakes this year, the largest number since 2008 when a tally was first kept.

Nor is death by drowning the only seasonal threat, with the State Fire And Rescue Service (VUGD) warning the public Wednesday not to leave candles burning unattended on advent wreaths after they were called to deal with just such a blaze in Riga.

"Candles on advent wreaths should not be left unattended even for a moment. Candles should be placed on a stable and non-flammable surface, such as non-combustible candleholders and only then placed into the Advent wreath. When creating or selecting the wreath, check the decorative elements around the candle to see if they might ignite," the VUGD advised.



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