The Cass County Sheriff’s Office urges extreme caution on area lakes, as heavy snows have caused flooding and deteriorated ice conditions.
Prior to the heavy snow, area lakes were starting to see early good ice starting to build. However, recent heavy snowfalls have insulated the ice and caused flooding. Even with the last week of cold temperatures, it will take time for good and adequate ice to build.
Conditions can vary greatly even in a small area. There could be several inches of good ice in one area and a few feet away just a few inches of ice. People who currently have ice houses on area lakes are asked to monitor them on a daily basis to ensure that the shelters have ample ice to maintain the shelter’s weight.
In the event of an emergency, the first thing to do is try not to panic. The DNR outlines the following plan to assist someone who has fallen into the water.
REMEMBER: Ice should never be considered “safe.”
Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go
• Preach: Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.
• Reach: If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.
• Throw: Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.
• Row: Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.
• Go: A non-professional shouldn’t go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out.
If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help and keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way and urge them to fight to survive.
Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch advises people to use good common sense while thinking or planning on traversing on the ice and to check conditions before going out to guarantee a safe and successful trip and return.