Coast Guard Says Great Lakes Ice Is a Clear, Solid Risk
U.S. Coast Guard Station St Ignace is working to promote ice safety in the Great Lakes during the winter months, and reminds people that Great Lakes ice is unpredictable and dangerous. It has issued the following safety tips.
All ice is a clear, solid risk. If people chose to go in the ice, they should remember the acronym: I (Intelligence), C (Clothing), E (Equipment).
Intelligence - Know the weather and ice conditions, know where you're going, and know how to call for help. Clothing - Have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia.
Equipment - Have proper equipment, such as a marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks.
Always check the weather and ice conditions before any trip out onto the ice. Ice thickness is not consistent. Water currents, particularly around narrow spots, bridges, inlets, and outlets, are always suspect for thin ice. Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas, and darker areas, for these signify thinner ice.
Always tell family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back - and stick to the plan.
Use the buddy system: Never go out on the ice alone. If you do choose to go out on the ice alone, stay in an area where other people can see you.
Dress in bright colors and wear an exposure suit that is waterproof and a personal floatation device. When the human body is immersed in cold water, an automatic reaction is for the person to take a deep breath, sucking in water. This accounts for many cold water deaths. The chances of locating a person in distress are increased when the individual wears bright clothing. The chances of survivability, and keeping your head above water, are increased when wearing an exposure suit and Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers. If you fall in the ice, you can use these items to get out. They are much more effective than using your hands.
Carry a whistle or noise-making device to alert people that you are in distress; carry a cell phone and/or a VHF-FM radio to contact the nearest Coast Guard station is case you see someone in distress.
Treating hypothermia Hypothermia becomes the big- gest danger after falling in through the ice. Hypothermia begins to set in quickly as the human body's core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Here are some hypothermia treatment tips:
• Handle the person gently.
• Get the person indoors and remove wet clothing.
• Dry the person promptly and wrap in blankets.
• Transfer to rescue and/or medical authorities as soon as possible.
• Never rub or massage the extremities.
• Do not give alcohol or caffeinated products.
• Never apply ice. • Never apply external heat sources directly to the skin.
• Do not allow the person to smoke.
Stages of hypothermia are:
• Mild - Conscious and oriented, shivering, able to assist.
• Moderate - Conscious but disoriented, shivering stops, may not be able to assist.
• Severe - Unconscious, muscle rigidity, unable to assist.
Owners of vehicles left on the ice after a rescue are subject to fines for pollution violations, the Coast Guard points out. Fines can range from $250 to $11,000.
For more information, contact Coast Guard Station St Ignace at 643-6402.