It has been a very cold winter in Connecticut… one of the coldest on record. With all this cold and snow, many are taking to the region’s lakes to ice fish, skate, snow shoe, cross-country ski and snow mobile.
Did you know that falling into icy water can lead to loss of consciousness and death within 15-30 minutes if you are not quickly rescued?
Knowing how to stay safe on the ice is really important. Here are a few things to consider…
- Remember – any time you go out on the ice, there is risk involved.
- Never go out on the ice alone.
- Let others on shore know of your plans so that help can find you if there is a problem.
- Ice thickness is NEVER consistent. Shallows, marshy areas, areas with moving water and inlets are just some of the areas that often present much thinner ice.
- If you can – drill test holes to gauge ice thickness before venturing far from shore.
- When it comes to lake and pond ice, appearances can be deceiving. Darker areas often indicate thinner ice. Cracks and slushy areas should be avoided.
- Ice at the edge of a body of water is often weaker than ice over open water… particularly during warmer periods like late winter.
- Submerged objects can actually weaken the ice around them.
- Many think the presence of snow guarantees thick ice. Actually, in some cases snow serves as an insulator – preventing a thickening of the ice.
- When walking on the ice with a buddy – always walk with some separation between you and your friend so that if the ice breaks, you don’t both fall in.
- If you have any doubt about ice depth – wear a life preserver. A flotation device could save your life.
- Consider carrying a few survival tools like a cell phone, lighter, pocket knife and a whistle.
- If you like walking your dog on the ice, keep them on a tether or leash so that you can keep them away from unsafe areas.
What if you do fall in? Here are a few tips:
- First and foremost – stay calm. Thrashing about actually causes more rapid heat loss.
- Call for help – or if you remembered a whistle – blow it long and hard.
- As you get colder, your body will stiffen and lose strength. Make a move to pull yourself out of the water as soon as possible after falling in.
- If you make it out – slide forward on your stomach to distribute your weight over a wider area. Do not stand until you are completely certain of the thickness of the ice.
Wintertime can bring many enjoyable outdoor adventures. By following a few simple safety rules, you can make sure you and your family avoid injury.