Coast Guard warns of unstable ice conditions

Essexville, Mich. - Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jason Betzing waits for a fellow Coast Guardsman to rescue him from a hole in the ice-covered Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron during ice rescue training Jan. 25, 2011. The training is part of a four-day school where Coast Guard men and women come to the Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence at Station Saginaw River in Essexville, Mich., to learn the proper techniques for rescuing people on ice-covered bodies of water. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Jorgensen)

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Office Lauren Jorgensen

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Coast Guard is warning that ice conditions are expected to continue deteriorating throughout the week and making recreational ice activities more dangerous than usual throughout the Great Lakes region.

The combination of warmer temperatures and shifting winds along with expected rain will cause hazardous conditions on the ice, and the Coast Guard cautions the public about venturing out on the ice.

If you decide to go on the ice, the following safety precautions are recommended:

  • Consider the weather. Warmer temperatures may weaken the ice and strong winds may break the ice;
  • Never go out on the ice alone;
  • Don’t rely on cellular phones to communicate distress – VHF-FM radios are much more reliable in the maritime environment. If trouble arises, call for help on FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency;
  • Carry a whistle or other sound-producing device to alert people you are in distress;
  • Carry a flashlight or flares to signal for help;
  • Dress in layers and bright colors and wear an anti-exposure suit with a personal flotation device;
  • Ensure you notify a trusted family member or friend of where you will go on the ice, your destination, who is with you, and when you will return;
  • Carry some type of “ice awls” – ice picks or screwdrivers – that can be used as spikes to pull yourself up if you break through the ice;
  • Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges and slushy areas, which signify thinner ice;

To report a person in distress by telephone, contact your nearest Coast Guard station or dial 911.

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