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Tips for staying safe while out on the ice

Winter

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH)– This time of year there are some frozen lakes and ponds safe enough for ice skating but there are also many that are dangerous.

Water rescues can be dramatic and dangerous.

“The biggest thing if you fall through the ice is hypothermia is going to set in within five minutes,” said Old Mystic Fire Chief Ken Richards.

If there is an ice rescue in eastern Connecticut, chances are the Old Mystic Fire Department will be responding with its Dive/Rescue truck and equipment like cold water rescue suits and sled, which helps distribute rescuers’ weight over a larger surface so they don’t fall in.

Once they get to the victim they use a loop system to pull the victim onto the sled.

The chief says areas where water flows out of a lake or a pond, or into it, can be the most dangerous because that water is moving and the ice could be a lot thinner.

“A good rule of thumb is clear ice is four inches,” said Chief Richards. “It needs to be four inches thick before you can walk on it.”

If it’s not clear ice, the recommendation is double that to eight inches. Five to six inches of solid ice is needed for a snowmobile. If you fall in, try to stay calm and get to the edge of the ice.

“You want to get up on your elbows on the ice or get out with your arms out on the ice to spread your weight out and try to kick to get back up on the ice,” said the chief.

If you can’t get out of the water, conserve your energy and heat by crossing your legs. The chief says it is always a good idea to have a loud whistle with you.

“If you blow the whistle it will get somebody’s attention if there’s no one else around,” said Chief Richards.

Just this weekend he received a call from someone concerned about kids on a pond in Old Mystic. While it may have been safe then it is not today.

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