Minutes to Live: Surviving Ice - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Minutes to Live: Surviving Ice

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

This time of year, cold weather can turn the area into a winter playground, but with the fun, comes the potential for danger.

13abc Meteorologist Geoff Cornish, under the supervision of the Coast Guard, intentionally fell through the ice to demonstrate some life-saving measures you should know if you find yourself with just minutes to live.

The body's first response to frigid water is "cold shock."

In an instant, a typical victim has a gasp reflex, which is extremely dangerous in the water.

If the head is under water when that gasp reflex occurs, drowning becomes more likely.

Get your bearings, despite the extreme shivering and intense pain.

Remain calm, and yell for help if you can.

Face the direction that you came from. In that direction, at least a distance away, is ice that had been strong enough to support you.

If you can, use your arms to push up and out of the ice, and in a controlled manner, kick your feet. If you can't get all the way out, rest as much of your body out of the water as possible.

Paul Segura, First Mate Second Class of the US Coast Guard, said, "If you can get out, roll away from the ice hole, the reason we ask you to roll is because it disperses your body weight, so you're less likely to break any more ice."

If you can't get out, remain calm, but keep in mind, it is a race against time.

As hypothermia begins to set in, the Coast Guard says blood will flow away from the extremities, fluid in muscles begins to congeal, and control of arms and legs is lost.

Chances of survival are much greater if you wear a life vest when on the ice.  Also, keep a whistle with you, and a VHF radio.  The Coast Guard monitors Channel 16.

Lieutenant Herzfeld from the Toledo Fire Department said that no ice thickness is truly safe -- the danger is too high for the Fire Department to encourage any activity on the ice.

The Coast Guard said that it depends on the type of body of water, and also on what you're hoping to do on the ice.

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