Coast Guard: Think ice safety this Black Friday, Cyber Monday

BALTIMORE - Seaman Ashleigh Wilson, a boatcrew member at Aids to Navigation Team Baltimore, holds a personal emergency position indicating radio beacon on a pier located in Curtis Bay, Md., Dec. 9, 2010. Crewmembers at ANT Baltimore carry PEPIRBs while servicing aids throughout the upper Chesapeake Bay. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell.

BALTIMORE – Crewmembers at ANT Baltimore carry PEPIRBs while servicing aids throughout the upper Chesapeake Bay. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell.

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard is reminding people to remember their favorite outdoor enthusiast’s safety while shopping this holiday season.

Lifesaving safety gear may not be the first thing gift givers think of when considering purchases, but a relatively inexpensive gift could one day be the difference between life and death.

There are many gift options available to choose from in a range of budgets, but the Coast Guard recommends considering these to keep loved ones safe during winter fun:

  • Float plan: while traditionally used by boaters, outdoor enthusiasts should also consider leaving float plans with reliable people who can be depended on in case of an emergency to contact rescuers. The form contains vital information that will save time should rescuers be needed. Float plans are free and can be downloaded and printed from here.
  • Ice awls: they can be as simple as two screwdrivers connected by a line or they can be commercially purchased.  The awls help a person get out of the water and to safety in case of a fall through the ice. Instructions for making and using ice awls are available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website here.
  • Life jacket: wearing a life jacket is important no matter what time of the year it is. An unexpected fall through the ice is more life threatening to a person not wearing a life jacket. Anyone going out on the lakes and rivers should remember to wear one.
  • 406 MHz personal locator beacon: PLBs help take the search out of search-and-rescue. Once activated, a signal is transmitted to a satellite and allows rescue forces to home in on the beacon. PLBs can be purchased for about $100, but they can be priceless lifesavers to people in trouble on the water or lost in the woods.
  • Dry suit: dry suits fall on the more expensive end when it comes to safety gear, but can certainly be vital in saving a life. When properly worn, they help keep the elements out and can vastly improve survival time after a fall into the water. People who enter cold water without one typically have about 1 minute to control their breathing, about 10 minutes of functional movement and around 1 hour before they lose consciousness.

Ultimately, those are just a few possible choices to help keep loved ones safe this winter while they’re out and about.

And always remember to keep I.C.E. in mind when heading out.

Information – Ensure you have up-to-date information on weather and ice conditions before going out. Know how to call for help and what to do if you fall through the ice.

Clothing- Wear sufficient clothing to prevent hypothermia. 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, life jacket, compass and screw drivers or ice picks.

Making safety a priority year round not only keeps you and your loved ones out of harm’s way, but our rescue crews as well.

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