WHITEFISH – With freezing temperatures, lakes are starting to completely freeze over. Still, you should remain cautious if you decide to recreate on the ice.
Whitefish Fire Department Captain Joe Rendahl says the most important thing is to pay attention to is your surroundings.
Rendahl suggests that clear ice is the safest and thickest ice you can stand on. However, if you hear the ice cracking and you do fall in the water, it is important to stay calm.
If no one is around, get as much of your body out of the water as possible. If you’re ice fishing, Rendahl says a fishing pole is a great tool to jam into the ice to keep you up.
Once out, roll or crawl away from the water, do not stand as this could break the ice.
If you can assist someone that’s fallen into the icy water, lie on your stomach and reach towards the victim with a pole or object. That way you don’t put yourself into danger as well.
Do not stand up, as this will also put pressure on the ice and cause it to break.
“We actually train our guys to make sure we keep the siren on the rescue truck on all the way to the scene because if the victim hears that siren coming it can give them the strength and hope to kinda just hang on a little bit longer,” Rendahl said.
Another thing to look for is shivering. Rendahl tells us that shivering is the body’s way of trying to warm you back up. However, if a person has stopped shivering this could indicate the person going past the point of hypothermia, and their condition could be very serious.
Rendahl goes on to say that once the victim is out of the water, be careful trying to make them walk. If the person is past the point of hypothermia, walking them could recycle the cold blood back to their heart, causing heart arrhythmia.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News