Emergency responders are reminding people about the dangers of playing on the ice at this time of year, following a close call Saturday in Cornwall, P.E.I.

The warning comes after a 16-year-old boy jumped onto a piece of ice that broke loose and began floating down North River on Saturday afternoon.  

Bev Fanning watched the dramatic scene. She said she is still shaken by what she saw from her patio.

"There was a young fella out on this narrow piece of ice and he was flailing his arms," said Fanning.

Firefighters from the nearby North River Volunteer Fire Department set out in a boat and rescued the teen from a piece of ice that was located about 200 metres from land.

Rescuer Dean Martin, training officer for the North River Volunteer Fire Department, said the boy had jumped onto the ice near the shore but it broke away and started drifting down river.

"If we hadn't arrived, he was heading out to the deeper water," said Martin, "And his ice cake probably would've given way in a short period of time."

Fire Chief Kirby Wakelin said some young people see floating on ice pans as a fun activity this time of year.

He is hoping this incident sends a message that it's not worth the risk.

"When I was a young fella myself, I used to do it," he said. "It's close to shore and they can hop on them and think they're safe. And of course what happens is they drift out and they're not safe any longer."

With the currents and tides in this part of the river, the risk of unstable ice is high.

"With the fluctuation of the tides inside here, it wouldn't take much for the ice to start breaking away," said Martin.

Luckily the firefighters were well-trained, after completing their ice rescue training just last weekend.