Coast Guard, local team save 2 from Portage Lake on Keewenaw Peninsula

Cutter crews conduct ice rescue training in the Straits of Mackinac

US Coast Guard File Photo

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Portage, Mich., and the Houghton County Fire Department saved two people after they broke through ice on Portage Lake on the Keewenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior, Friday.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie received a report from Houghton County Emergency Dispatch at about 1:35 p.m. that two persons had broken through ice near the west entrance of Breaker’s Beach on Lake Portage in Houghton County, Mich.

Sector Sault Ste. Marie launched Station Portage’s ice rescue team. Houghton County Fire Department and local EMS also responded.

Both persons were able to extricate themselves from the water, but remained trapped on weak ice. By  about 2:15 p.m., Houghton County Fire Department personnel saved one man while the Coast Guard ice rescue team saved one woman. The woman suffered minor injuries and was transported by Houghton County EMS to Portage Health Hospital and is in stable condition.

The Coast Guard urges everyone to use caution while enjoying the outdoors. Varying levels of ice thickness are common throughout the Great Lakes region and weather conditions play a major role in the types of ice you may encounter.

If you plan on venturing out onto the lakes in the winter, remember the acronym, “ICE,” which stands for Information, Clothing and Equipment.

  • Information – ensure you have up-to-date information on the weather and ice conditions before going out, and know how to call for help and what to do if you fall through the ice.
  • Clothing – wear sufficient clothing to prevent hypothermia. Wear a life-jacket if recreating on ice or near water. And choose bright colors and reflective garments to aid searchers if you end up needing help.
  • Equipment – never venture onto the ice without proper safety equipment: a marine radio, a Personal Locator Beacon, compass, and screw drivers or ice picks which can be used to pull yourself out of the water if you fall through the ice.

In addition, it is recommended you never venture out alone and tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. 

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