Winter offers a variety of recreational options, but the Geneva Fire Department reminds residents to be safe when ice over water is involved.
Those who enjoy ice fishing, snow-mobiling, sledding and ice skating need to be mindful of ice, which can kill or injure people when not respected. Ice on ponds and rivers can be affected by many factors, but a good rule of thumb is the surface will not support a person’s weight unless the new ice is at least 4 to 5 inches thick.
New ice is typically stronger than old ice. As ice ages, the surface will decay making it weaker even if melting has not occurred. Other weather conditions such as wind, snow, rain and temperature all can impact ice strength and thickness.
People should never go out on the ice alone; a friend should be available to call for help if an accident takes place. Pets also should be kept on a leash. If a person or pet falls through the ice, do not attempt the rescue by yourself. The best option is to call 911 immediately for the Fire Department to respond to the situation.
If you fall through the ice, the following actions will extend survival time:
• Stay calm – Do not attempt to swim since it will cause a loss of body heat faster than remaining as still as possible.
• Use a whistle to attract help.
• Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat – Move back to where water entry was made. Expect a progressive decrease in strength and ability to move the longer you are in the water.
• Once on the ice – Push forward on your stomach or roll onto your side to keep weight distributed over a greater surface area. Do not stand up until moving onto the ground or an area of solid ice.