Warm weekend weather, rain will likely cause unstable, dangerous ice

National Weather Service LogoDETROIT – The U.S. Coast Guard is warning the public that the warm weather and rain forecast for New Year’s weekend will likely create unstable and hazardous ice conditions on Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, making it extremely dangerous for people to be on.

The National Weather Service forecasts rain through New Year’s Day and air temperatures as high as 46 degrees, a combination which rapidly and substantially weakens ice.

Although air temperatures will be relatively warm, lake temperatures will remain extremely cold. Immersion into icy water quickly leads to hypothermia and possibly death within minutes.

Those who choose to venture onto ice-covered lakes or rivers should adhere to the following safety tips:

  • Don’t rely on cellular phones to communicate distress; VHF-FM radios are much more reliable.
  • Dress in layers and bright colors and wear an anti-exposure suit that is waterproof, including a personal flotation device. A PFD allows a person to float with a minimum amount of energy expended and allows the person to assume the heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.) To do this, bring the knees close to the chest and hold them in place by wrapping the arms around the shin portions of the legs.
  • Carry a whistle or noise-making device to alert people that you are in distress.
  • Ensure you notify family or relatives of where you will launch, your destination, who is with you, when you will return and your cell phone number if you have one.
  • Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers for self-rescue. They can be used as spikes to pull yourself up on the ice if you break through and are much more effective than using your hands.
  • Use the buddy system. NEVER go out on the ice alone.
  • Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges and slushy areas, which signify thinner ice.
  • Avoid walking side by side with others, which increases weight in a small area.
  • If trouble arises, call for help on VHF-FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, or dial 911 on a cell phone or nearby landline.

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