Danger, Thin Ice Press Release

Kennebunkport, Maine - Lifesaving Resources, LLC warns, "No Ice Is Safe Ice!"

This press release may be duplicated and customized for use within your own communities. Lifesaving Resources, LLC is a private company dedicated to drowning and aquatic injury prevention and emergency management. The company develops Water Rescue and Ice Rescue training curriculums and conducts this training throughout North America for the Public Safety and Rescue, and the Lifeguard and Aquatic Recreation Sectors.

Author: 
Gerald M. Dworkin

It’s important to keep pets under control and prevent them from roaming onto ice says Gerald Dworkin, an aquatics safety and water rescue consultant at Lifesaving Resources, LLC. “About 85 percent of ice emergency 9-1-1 calls are triggered by people trying to save a pet who fell through thin ice. Never attempt to rescue an animal yourself, but rather, call 9-1-1.”

“The danger is that ice seldom freezes uniformly,” says Dworkin. “For example, ice will be thinner when it has formed over moving water, and where it surrounds partially submerged objects such as rocks or tree limbs. Even the movement of fish and birds weakens the integrity of ice.” He adds that snow-covered ice, and ice that has thawed and refrozen is not as strong as new, clear, hard ice.

Dworkin says, despite the danger, some people will venture onto ice in pursuit of winter recreational activities, such as ice skating, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. He stresses that those who insist on going onto the ice should do so only if the ice is “new, clear and frozen solid to a depth of no less than five inches.” Moreover, it’s crucial to plan ahead and be adequately prepared to deal with an ice emergency by having appropriate equipment such as a personal flotation device (PFD) or float coat; ice picks; and a signaling device, such as a whistle (pee-less and plastic). Additionally, he offers winter recreation enthusiasts the following self-rescue and response tips:

If you fall through ice—

• Don’t try to climb out immediately. Instead, turn back to the direction you came from before falling in, then kick to get horizontal in the water with your legs behind your torso, rather than underneath. After you are horizontal, try to slide forward onto solid ice.

• Once out of the water, roll away and avoid standing until you are several body lengths away from the ice break.

• A set of ice picks are ideal safety tools for rescuers and victims alike. These consist of a foam-filled plastic shaft with retractable sheaths covering metal. When the ice pick is jammed on the ice, the retractable sheath exposes the pick. This allows a rescuer to crawl out to the victim, or gives a victim the opportunity to pick and crawl his way out of the ice hole.

When trying to rescue a person who has fallen through ice—

• Call, or have someone call 9-1-1 first.

• Try to perform a shore-based rescue by throwing something to the victim. For example, an empty water cooler bottle, with a line attached, makes an excellent, buoyant rescue aid. Other items that can be used are battery cables, a ring buoy with attached line, a heaving line, or a rescue throw bag.

• Use a reaching assist from shore by extending something to the victim, such as a hockey stick, a tree branch, a ladder or belt, in order to extend the reach of the rescuer and prevent him or her from being dragged into the water by the victim.

• If going onto the ice to reach a victim is unavoidable, use some sort of device to distribute the rescuer’s weight over a wide area. If available, a flat-bottomed boat, canoe or kayak can be slid along the ice until contact is made with the victim. If the ice breaks under the boat, rescuers have a platform from which they can continue the rescue or retreat to safety. Whenever possible, the boat should be tethered to shore with a safety line.

Dworkin estimates that several hundred deaths result from people falling through ice each year.

“All fire, rescue, EMS, and law enforcement personnel should be trained and equipped for ice rescue, including the rescue of domestic pets,” says Dworkin. “Ice rescue suits, ice picks, water rescue rope, and an animal control stick are the minimum equipment needed.”

Lifesaving Resources, LLC conducts ice rescue training programs throughout North America for emergency first responders. For more information visit http://www.lifesaving.com.

Also, Lifesaving Resources, in cooperation with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (www.ndpa.org), has posted a videoclip on their home page at www.lifesaving.com on the subject of Ice Safety and Rescue.