BE A SURVIVOR!
Let’s say you have taken all the precautions and you’re going to try your luck at ice fishing. As you walk out on the ice, you hear a crack and fall through. Suddenly you find yourself immersed in water so cold it literally takes your breath away. And the pain is incredible!
What should you do? First, try not to panic. This may be easier said than done, unless you have worked out a survival plan in advance.
- Don’t remove your winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.
- Turn toward the direction you came. That’s probably the strongest ice.
- Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. This is where a pair of nails, sharpened screwdrivers or ice picks come in handy in providing the extra traction you need to pull yourself up onto the ice.
- Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back onto the solid ice. If your clothes have trapped a lot of water, you may have to lift yourself partially out of the water on your elbows to let the water drain before starting forward.
- Lie flat on the ice once you are out and roll away from the hole to keep your weight spread out. This may help prevent you from breaking through again.
- Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area and re-warm yourself immediately. In moderate to severe cases of cold water hypothermia, you must seek medical attention. Cold blood trapped in your extremities can come rushing back to your heart after you begin to re-warm. The shock of the chilled blood may cause ventricular fibrilation leading to a heart attack and death.
What if someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone. Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.
There is a saying that will help you remember how to perform a water or ice rescue; “Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go.”
PREACH – Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.
REACH – If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.
THROW –Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.
ROW – Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.
GO –A non-professional shouldn’t go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out. Extend an object the victim can grasp. If they start to pull you in, release the object and start over.
If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help and keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way and urge them to fight to survive. Heroics by well-meaning but untrained rescuers sometimes result in two deaths.
If your car or truck plunges through the ice, the best time to escape is before it sinks, not after. It will stay afloat a few seconds to several minutes depending on the airtightness of the vehicle. While the car is still afloat, the best escape hatches are the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure. If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
A vehicle with its engine in the front will sink at a steep angle and may land on its roof if the water is 15- feet or deeper.
As the car starts its final plunge to the bottom, water rapidly displaces the remaining air. An air bubble can stay in a submerged vehicle, but it is unlikely that it would remain by the time the car hits the bottom. A plastic bottle can be loaded with 50- to 70- feet of nylon rope, and kept ready on your snowmobile. To use, secure the free end of the line and throw the bottle to the victim.
When the car is completely filled, the doors may be a little easier to open unless they are blocked by mud and silt. Remember too, chances are that the car will be upside-down at this point. Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished. This underscores the necessity of getting out of the car before it starts to sink.
YOUR FINAL ANSWER?
Remember, common sense is your greatest ally in preventing ice accidents. Five minutes of checking ice from shore, and systematic checks while on the ice can mean the difference between an enjoyable outdoor experience and a tragedy.