2009-01-24 / News

Ice can be deadly

COLUMBUS - Ohioans are reminded to use extreme caution during winter while venturing onto frozen waterways and to be prepared to handle an emergency should someone fall through the ice, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The advisory follows the recent tragic deaths of three men who died in separate incidents while snowmobiling and ice boating on two northern Indiana lakes. Two men died when their snowmobiles broke through the ice and entered the icy waters of Sylvan Lake. Another man died when his ice boat overturned, broke through the ice and fell into Lake Maxinkuckee.

Noting that some of the lowest temperatures of the winter are due to arrive by the end of this week, some people may be tempted to venture out onto the ice and should be aware of basic safety tips, including being prepared for an emergency. ODNR has surveyed various information resources and offers these ice safety tips. Additional tips can be found online at www.ohiodnr.com and through various other Internet web resources.

Ice Safety Tips

• Always remember that ice-covered water is never completely safe.

• Anyone new to ice fishing, or interested in learning how to safely ice fish, should seek out a licensed ice-fishing guide. A list of certified guides is available at www.ohiodnr.com or by calling the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Sandusky office at (419) 625-8062. Ask at local bait shops about known areas of thin or dangerous ice.

• Always go out with friends, letting others know when you will be on the ice and when you will return.

• If possible, take with you a mobile phone wrapped in a plastic bag.

• Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or float coat. Life vests provide excellent flotation and protection from hypothermia.

• Use safe alternatives to local streams or lakes for skating or sledding. Dillon State Park in Muskingum County offers free access to a designated iceskating area. Check with your local, state or metro park to see where conditions are suitable for skating.

• Understand wind chill factors are relative temperature guides. Although a thermometer may read 40 degrees, a wind speed of 20 miles per hour can cause a body to lose heat as if the temperature were actually 18 degrees.

• Carry two ice picks, screwdrivers or large nails to create leverage for pulling yourself out of the water. They are much more effective than bare hands. Also, carry a whistle or other noisemaker to alert people that you are in distress.

• Dress in layers and add extra clothing for the head, neck, sides and groin, which are the primary heat-loss areas. Wool and modern synthetics are good fabric choices for clothing; cotton when wet is slow to dry.

• Keep an extra set of clothes in your car in case you do need dry clothing.

• Avoid alcoholic beverages. In addition to reducing reaction times, alcohol lowers your internal temperature and increases the chances of suffering hypothermia.

• Never drive a vehicle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle onto ice. Leave this to professional guides. This is extremely dangerous and most insurance policies will not cover the vehicles of ice fishermen that have dropped through the ice.

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