Coast Guard warns northern Lake Michigan residents of unstable ice after 5 people rescued out of icy water

CLEVELAND — Five people were rescued by the Door County, Wis., Sheriff’s Department out of the icy waters near Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Thursday afternoon, and the Coast Guard is warning people that warming temperatures are creating ice conditions that are increasingly dangerous.

The five people were rescued after they unexpectedly fell through the ice about 300 yards off the shore.

The Coast Guard warns people to never venture out on the ice alone and to take proper precautions before heading out on the water or the ice.

“As the temperatures get warmer, more people are partaking in outdoor activities,” said Cmdr. Erik Leuenberger, chief of response at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.

“Be aware that although it may be warmer on land, the water temperature is approximately 35 degrees. Maintain situational awareness, and don’t make the mistake of thinking the ice is safe to walk on.”

When venturing out, a person should think I.C.E. as a precaution:

Information – know the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help. Never go out alone.

Clothing – have the proper clothing to prevent hypothermia. Wear a waterproof exposure suit and a life jacket.

Equipment – have the proper equipment. Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers, in case you fall in. Use these items to dig into the ice and pull yourself out. They are more effective than bare hands. Carry a whistle or noise maker to alert people that you are in distress. Carry a cellular phone or marine band radio in a waterproof container, so that you can call for help if you come across trouble.

More safety information can be found in the Coast Guard’s “Think Twice with Ice” brochure.

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