Ice safety: How to survive a fall through

How to survive a fall through the ice
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 6:39 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As cold, January conditions persist and ice continues to thicken on area waterways, you may be tempted go out and play some hockey or maybe even ice fish! But don’t let the excitement of some wintry fun quite literally put you on thin ice.

A fun trip out on the ice can turn dangerous in a split second, and on Thursday Toledo Fire & Rescue were out on the pond in Sleepy Hollow Park practicing their ice rescue skills for that worst-case scenario.

“Somebody falls through the ice, we’re on the clock,” said Lt. Greg Yingling, the Ice Rescue Program Trainer for Toledo Fire & Rescue. “We don’t have much time to get to them. And it also takes us a while to get there. So, we have to be able to hit the ground running, be extremely organized and very proficient so we can get out there for the best possible outcome.”

If you’re planning to go out on the ice, don’t go out alone. But if you’re on the ice and someone does fall through, don’t try to save them yourself as it’s likely that you will also fall through.

Instead, Lt. Yingling says, “Encourage them to get their arms up on the ice and kick their feet to keep their head above water. Calm them down, deep slow breaths. And then if you can throw them something to help them float like a cooler or rope, something like that.”

Also, be sure to call 911 to get help as soon as possible. Cold water shock is inevitable when someone goes through the ice but once that initial shock passes, time is of the essence to stay alive.

“That deep breath, hyperventilation generally lasts from 1 to 3 minutes,” Lt. Yingling told us. “Then your body can kind of recuperate and recover and overcome that. So, then you generally can calm down and you have anywhere from about 5 to 10 minutes to get yourself out before you become so hypothermic that you can’t function to get out.”

It’s also important to remember that ice that forms over water with currents underneath like rivers and even lakes can be especially dangerous, but at the end of the day no ice is safe ice.

Reporting in Sleepy Hollow Park, Derek Witt 13abc Action News.

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