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Winter has barely started, yet already more than 10 incidents involving falls through ice, several of them fatal, have been reported in the news media. Experts blame unseasonably warm temperatures and alternate freezing and thawing for the dangerous conditions.
“We urge everyone to stay off all frozen bodies of water,” said Kim Burgess, executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. “The perceived recreational benefit is simply not worth the risk to yourself or your loved ones.”
“It’s also important to prevent pets from roaming onto ice,” adds NDPA Board Member Gerald M. Dworkin, an aquatics safety and water rescue consultant at Lifesaving Resources LLC. “More than half of ice emergency 911 calls are triggered by people trying to save a pet who fell through ice. Never attempt to rescue an animal yourself, but rather, call 911.”
“Ice seldom freezes uniformly,” explains Dworkin. “It will be thinner when it has formed over moving water and where it surrounds partially submerged objects.” He adds that snow-covered ice and ice that has thawed and refrozen is not as strong as new, clear, hard ice.
Dworkin offers the following self-rescue and response tips:
If you fall through ice -
When trying to rescue a person who has fallen through ice -
“All first responders should be trained and equipped for ice rescue,” says Dworkin. “Ice rescue suits, ice picks, water rescue rope, and an animal control stick are the minimum equipment needed.”