Rescue crews warn of thin ice on area ponds

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BONO, AR (KAIT) -Region Eight is gearing up for a winter blast of near-record cold air.

And while you may be tempted to go out and play on the ice-- beware!

Those frozen ponds and lakes may look inviting but while you may be tempted to try and skate or walk or drive a 4 wheeler on the ice....... don't.

It could be the very last thing you do this winter.

The safest ice to skate or walk on is **thick**

but in this part of the country that's almost non-existent.

That's why you need to realize that even though there may be ice, it's probably not going to hold you up and falling into the cold, cold water is not something you need to experience.

The Craighead County Sheriff Patrol Dive Team handles water rescues but pulling someone out of the middle of a frozen pond or lake is a bit different.

Sheriff Jack McCann said this type of weather is so rare they really don't practice procedures for cold water rescues.

"We have boats and ropes and life vests. We could get someone out of a pond."

That's providing someone sees the victim go in and immediately calls for help. Even though the rescue team may immediately respond it may be up to the first officers on scene.

Deputy Phillip Wheaton oversees the dive team, he acknowledges that the first officers on the scene may do the rescuing.

"The officers on scene will asses the situation and try to help them out of the pond or lake until we get there."

But remember if you fall into the water time is working quickly against you.

For example I broke a hole in the ice of a pond I was at and used a laser thermometer to get a rough idea of the water temperature.

It showed 24 degrees for the water temp which is near the shore and probably a bit warmer. The problem is at freezing or 32 degrees you could lose consciousness in 15 minutes with estimated survival of around 45 minutes. And again this water temped out at 24 degrees.

Sheriff McCann says the best course to take is;

"Stay off the ponds. It may look solid but if you fall in that water through the ice, you've got about 10 - 15 minutes and you'll be dead. A person will be dead before we can get there and then it would just be a recovery at that point."

An ice covered pond could be a terrible temptation for a child, and even though it looks solid. You still probably wouldn't want to put your weight on it.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that for ice thickness, 4 inches is the minimum thickness and that's under perfect clear water constant cold temperatures.

The chunk I took out of the pond was only about 2 inches thick not nearly thick enough to put weight on. What you won't be able to gauge is the thin spots and open holes.

An ice covered area may attract a child's eye if left alone for just a minute resulting in tragedy like a recent event in Wisconsin where a 7 year old fell through the ice and drowned.

Wheaton, "Make sure that your children don't play on the ponds. Stay off the ice. In case they do fall through it could be fatal. And we don't want that this weekend. "

Again, stay off the ponds and lakes, skim stones across, bounce rocks off the ice but don't be misled it will not hold you up and the water underneath is cold, killing cold.

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