What you need to know in case you fall into icy waters


Would you know what to do if you fell into an icy Lake Erie in the winter? 

The members of the Great Lakes Coast Guard spent the day on Lake Erie conducting ice rescue training, and it was no easy task.

If you fall in, officers stressed the importance of controlling your breathing, which takes a lot of effort in icy waters. Then, try to find a way out. If you can’t, call out for help. Every minute counts.

“You have one minute when you fall into the water to control your breathing. The shock from the cold water can often make it difficult to stabilize themselves. You have 10 minutes of viable movement in icy water to rescue yourself,” said Jonathan Lee, U.S. Coast Guard 1st Class Petty Officer.

The coast guard members said if you go out on the ice for ice fishing or any other activitie, you should dress in layers, go with a friend and let others know when you'll be back. If you accidentally fall in, there isn't a lot of time, before it’s too late.

“Your go-to instinct is going to be fight or flight, and you're going to start panicking, so what you need to do is try to calm down,” said Brandon Zuvala, U.S. Coast Guard 3rd Class Petty Officer.

The officers used an ice staff to check conditions before stepping on it to make sure it was safe. Still, they said no ice is safe ice.

"We use [an ice staff] to kind of poke and prod the ice ahead of us, maybe to find weak spots, before we step on it," said Lee.

They spent Thursday morning training for different types of situations, including saving a conscious person and then someone who has supposedly passed out.

“Nothing can prepare you for every situation that we could experience when it comes to rescuing someone on the ice,” said Lee.

He added that ice rescues are extremely rare. He said the Great Lakes station had none last winter. They encourage all people to be careful and never go out to the waters alone, especially in the winter.

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