Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan stresses ice safety

MILWAUKEE – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan would like to remind people to use extra precautions when planning recreational activities on frozen ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. Ice is unpredictable and dangerous.

While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on the ice around the Great Lakes is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures such as:

  • Always check the weather and ice conditions before any trip out onto the ice. Ice thickness is not consistent, even over the same body of water
  • Always tell family and friends where you are going and when you are expected to be back, and stick to the plan.
  • Use the buddy system. It is recommended to NEVER go out onto the ice alone. If you MUST go out on the ice alone, stay in an area where other people can see you.
  • Dress in bright colors. Wear an exposure suit, preferably one that is waterproof, and a personal floatation device.
  • Carry a whistle or noise-making device to alert people that you are in distress; consider carrying a cell phone and/or a VHF-FM radio in order to contact the nearest Coast Guard station in the event you see someone in distress.
  • Carry two screwdrivers or a set of ice awls. If you fall through the ice you can use these items to help get you out. They are more effective than using your hands.

Additional water safety information can be found on the regional Coast Guard Auxiliary website Cold water safety presentations by the Auxiliary are available to local organizations and can be arranged by contacting the Coast Guard Auxiliary District Public Affairs Officer at

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard created by an act of Congress in 1939. The Auxiliary, America’s Volunteer Guardians, supports the Coast Guard in nearly all of the service’s missions including Water Safety.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan is responsible for all Coast Guard missions on Lake Michigan and surrounding navigable waterways, including Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Aids to Navigation, Marine Safety, and Homeland Security.

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