The inconsistency of the winter weather pattern this year has impacted the quality of ice in our area. Many bodies of water including ponds, lakes and streams that are typically frozen solid by this time of year are only thinly frozen or not frozen at all. Ice seldom freezes uniformly. Think in terms of the thermometer rather than the calendar when deciding if to go out on the ice. Just because it was okay on December 1st to go out on the ice last year, doesn’t mean it’s going to be safe on the same date this year! We urge everyone to use EXTREME CAUTION while negotiating around bodies of water that are believed to be frozen. Most ice conditions in our area are not safe for ice-fishing or to be able to handle the weight of recreational vehicles.
This past weekend a group of people enjoying the great outdoors in Jefferson Township experienced the extreme dangers of just how thin the ice is when their UTV fell through the ice they where attempting to cross. Jefferson Township Fire and EMS personnel responded to the scene. Luckily no one was seriously injured and the vehicle was able to be recovered. Please don't put yourself in harms way and stay away from frozen bodies of water this winter. If you do decide to venture onto the ice, we strongly encourage everyone to wear a life-vest and travel in groups larger then one person. You should never venture out a frozen body of water alone.
- Stay Calm - Don’t let the shock of falling into the ice-cold water take over. This may be the hardest part of saving yourself. You need a clear mind to rescue yourself from the water. You have about 10 minutes before your body gets too cold to pull itself out.
- Don’t remove your winter clothing - Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.
- Turn toward the direction you came - That’s probably the strongest ice.
- Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface - This is where a pair of nails, sharpened screwdrivers or ice picks come in handy in providing the extra traction you need to pull yourself up onto the ice.
- Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back onto the solid ice - If your clothes have trapped a lot of water, you may have to lift yourself partially out of the water on your elbows to let the water drain before starting forward.
- Lie flat on the ice once you are out and roll away from the hole to keep your weight spread out - This may help prevent you from breaking through again.
- Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area and re-warm yourself immediately - In moderate to severe cases of cold water hypothermia, you must seek medical attention. Cold blood trapped in your extremities can come rushing back to your heart after you begin to re-warm. The shock of the chilled blood may cause ventricular fibrillation leading to a heart attack and death!
What if someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone. Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.