ICE: A Clear, Solid Risk

DETROIT – With cold weather persisting, ice has formed on Lakes Huron, St. Clair and Erie. The only way to ensure ice safety is to stay off the ice. Recognizing that ice recreational activities are a part of Great Lakes heritage, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends you remember the acronym ICE to remind you to use good Intelligence and the right Clothing and Equipment.
If you choose to venture onto the ice-covered lakes or rivers, consider the following safety tips:

  • Pack a VHF-FM radio, rope, whistle, flashlight, compass and flares.
  • Dress in layers and bright colors. Wear an exposure suit that is water proof and a personal flotation device; a cold water immersion suit is best.
  • Ensure you notify family or relatives of where you will launch, your destination, who is with you, when you will return, and your phone number if you are carrying a cellular phone.
  • Take some type of “ice awls” and have them attached to your body. They are used as spikes to pull yourself up onto the ice if you break through.
  • Test and be aware of the ice conditions and thickness. It is difficult to tell when you are standing on a soft spot.
  • Be weather wise. Be aware of the temperature and wind direction for a few days before you venture out as well as the day’s forecast. Strong winds in any direction may break up the ice.
  • Do not go on the ice alone. Use the buddy system.
  • Do not cross a pressure crack or open water; you could end up adrift on an ice floe.
  • Avoid walking side by side with another person; you increase the weight in a small area.

To better respond to the unique conditions associated with ice rescue, the following Coast Guard Stations are designated as Ice Rescue Stations:

  • Tawas, MI
  • Saginaw, MI
  • Harbor Beach, MI
  • St. Clair Shores, MI
  • Belle Isle, MI
  • Toledo, OH
  • Marblehead, OH

All seven Stations possess specialized ice rescue equipment and personal protective gear for crews. In addition, the Coast Guard has procured specialized Ice Capable Boats and stationed them at Stations Saginaw River, St. Clair Shores, Belle Isle and Marblehead.

Coast Guard Ice Capable Boat
Coast Guard Ice Capable Boat.

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