Be aware of ice safety

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No ice is 100% safe, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

“Understanding the risks of going out on the ice that may be dangerous will help keep your family, friends, and neighbors safe,” said Sheriff Bouchard. “Familiarizing yourself with some simple ice safety tips can help prevent a tragedy from occurring.”

The ice should be AT LEAST 5 inches thick for general use. That includes things like fisherman, ice skaters, and foot traffic.

You shouldn't go out on the ice with a snowmobile, or off road vehicle unless the ice is 8 inches thick. Bouchard does not recommend you take your automobile out on the ice as that could void insurance claims.

Be aware that ice conditions can change day by day, lake by lake, and location to location on the same body of water. Signs of ice changing conditions are moving water near a stream, river, unseen spring or inlet, slushy areas, depressions in the snow, ehavy snow, white milky or black colored ice, and frazzle ice weakened by the freeze-thaw cycles. Frazzle ice is pocketed with tiny air pockets and often looks like frozen slush.

Don't go out alone on the ice, always take a partner or someone who can call 911 or get help in an emergency. If you can avoid it don't be the first person on the ice, or check with someone who has experience with that particular lake or pond before going out.

Leave a travel plan with someone who can call for help, or direct a search party of you do not return. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Layers, cover exposed parts of your body. Even consider wearing a personal flotation device. Ice creepers attached to boots could help you stay stable on the ice and assist in self-rescue.

Bring safety items such as a cell phone, whistle, rope, ice pick or awls, screwdriver, hand flares, flashlight, and throwable personal flotation device.

Always check, and double check the ice thickeness with an ice spud, auger or cordless drill. If you find a weak spot retrace your route off the ice. Keep distance between yourself and others in the group.

If you hear the ice crack, or find an unsafe area you should stay spread out. Lay down to distribute your weight, and crawl back to safer ice.

If you witness someone fall through the ice do not run to the hole immediately. First contact 911 to get help on the way. Then use a pole, branch, rope or any other available object to reach out to the person from a safe distance. You can not help if you also fall through the ice.

If you do fall through the ice DO NOT PANIC, this will only slow you down. Call for help, and kick your feet while getting your hands and then arms up onto safer ice. Swim u onto the ice far enough to crawl or roll out.

Snowmobiles, off road vehicles, and vehicles on the ice can increase your risk of falling through, especially at night. Many accidents happen when drivers go to fast, and are unable to slow or stop in time to avoid open water or unsafe ice.

Pets that go out onto ice are another major cause for many near drownings and deaths. If your pet has gone onto ice do not go after them. Instead, if you can, call them back to you.

Wildlife might naturally go out onto ice. Deer are strong swimmers, prepared for cold weather, and usually find their own way off the ice. Most of the time wildlife found in water were previously injured.