Posted on: December 28, 2017

Stay Off the Ice

Ice rescue boat

Safety Around the Ice

Now that Colorado has experienced snow and freezing temperatures, area lakes and ponds have started icing over. While the ice may look solid and tempting to walk on, North Metro Fire Rescue District advises residents to stay off the ice.

Every year, North Metro firefighters respond to numerous ice rescues as a result of a human or dog falling through the ice. Sadly, it’s a preventable accident that sometimes ends in tragedy. Remember these tips to help keep your family and pets safe this winter.

Don’t risk it. Stay off the ice.

Always assume that ice is unsafe. Don’t walk out onto ice because the ice likely won’t support the weight of a human being. Ice has its limitations, and the condition of the ice is always changing.
Even if the ice is a foot thick in one area on a lake, it can be one inch thick just a few yards away. It’s impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance, thickness, daily temperature or snow cover alone.

Pay attention and obey warning signs posted at lakes or ponds such as: “Beware-Thin Ice” or “Danger Thin Ice. Keep Off.”

Remember to keep your pet on a leash around icy bodies of water. Many of the people who find themselves in trouble after an ice accident were trying to rescue a pet that wandered onto the ice. By simply keeping your pets on a leash, you’ll be able to avoid such incidents. If your pet does find its way onto the ice, never go on the ice in an attempt to rescue your four-legged friend. You’ll only be putting yourself in danger. Instead, call 911. Firefighters treat animal rescues as seriously as they do human rescues.

If you witness someone falling into icy waters:Icy pond

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Go for help if you don’t have a way of calling 911, but take note of where the victim is in the water using nearby markers such as trees and benches, so you can accurately inform first responders of the victim’s location.
  • Trust in your responders. Do NOT go out onto the ice to perform a rescue yourself. Firefighters will be on scene within a four to six minutes and will be suited up and ready to rescue the victim quickly and safely from the water.
  • Remember, “Reach-Throw-Go”.
  • If you can safely reach the person while on shore, then try to do so.
  • Throw a rope or flotation device from shore to the victim and pull them out to safety. Do not send additional people onto the thin ice to rescue them.
  • Encourage the victim to help rescue themselves by using their elbows to crawl on the ice while keeping their body horizontal and kicking to propel them out of the water.
  • If the victim is able to get out of the water, take off wet clothing and wrap the victim in blankets until paramedics arrive – but do not place the person in a hot bath or shower.

While watching someone struggling to get above the ice can be agonizing for any witness, the best thing you can do is to alert emergency responders, try to encourage the victim to self-rescue or stay calm if they are unable to do so, and help direct responders to the victim as quickly as possible.

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