Don't "Break The Ice," (John Farnham)

There's a song that's featured in one of the best movies of all time, "RAD," called "Break The Ice," by John Farnham. I mention this only because any time (and I do mean ANY TIME), I think about breaking ice, I think of this song. Actually, the number of times that I think about RAD in general is quite high, but I digress. 

With winter still here, despite warmer than normal temperatures here in MA and other parts of the country, there's still ice to be found on some of our bodies of water. Depending on where you're going and how long the ice has been present, you may be tempted to walk or ride across. There have been plenty of times--in periods of prolonged deep freezes--where it's been fun to ride across frozen lakes with studded tires. Lately, I stick to terra firma.

SafeTrails First Aid
co-instructor, Mike Lawless, who is also a volunteer fire fighter just did some cold water/ice rescue training and he has these tips to prevent any major mishaps if you plan on being on or near the ice:

  • Dress warmly, particularly in layers.
  • Have a whistle and some sort of small ice pick on your person. The whistle will help get the attention of others if you do fall through and the ice pick will help aid you back onto the ice shelf.
  • Share your outdoor plans for the day. Make someone else aware of your plans/whereabouts.
  • Do not venture onto the ice alone! Best practice is to stay off the ice if others are not present or if you’re unsure of the actual ice thickness.
  • Know before you go… How much ice is there? Typically newer ice is safer than older ice, it has a blue or black color to it. Milky colored ice is made up of more air bubbles/snow which can be less stable. See chart.
  • Avoid water inlets, outlets, narrow thruways and bridges which may posses currents yielding less ice thickness.
  • Stay away from any open water!
  • This includes the ice along the shore line which typically starts to melt as we get into February/March. This is more so when there is no snow to insulate the shoreline from the sun.
  • Be aware of newly fallen snow or water onto of the ice. This can create a super slippery condition.
  • If you fall through the ice, kick with your legs and use your upper body to get back onto the ice shelf. This is where carrying an ice pick becomes handy. If you are able to get back onto the ice shelf, continue to lay flat on the ice and move towards the shore line. This will help distribute your weight over a larger surface of the ice preventing from falling thru again. If you are unable to get out of the water onto the ice shelf, use the whistle to attract others for help.
  • If you witness someone or a pet falling through the ice, call 911 immediately. Most FD have rescue devices specifically for ice rescue. It’s important to get them started right away.
  • Do not attempt to rescue others by going out onto the ice yourself.
  • Stay on the shoreline and attempt to keep the person/persons calm.
  • Use a rope if available from the shoreline only. These people will tend to tire quickly due to the cold water and physical exhaustion. Stay in contact with and talk to them.
  • Once these individuals are out of the water and back onto shore, it is important to remove wet clothing and rewarm with dry clothing or blankets.  Hypothermia is typically the most important item to address in these scenarios.

Thanks Mike!

Personally, I'd just stay away from ice altogether, and you could stay inside and watch RAD (again).

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