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Coast Guard: 'Be prepared' when planning winter water activities

Posted at 12:47 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 12:47:22-05

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The United States Coast Guard is cautioning people who plan to participate in any winter activities on the water, like ice fishing, as this week’s winter blast pushes through West Michigan.

It comes after the Coast Guard rescued 66 people in northeastern Wisconsin on Thursday after three separate ice flows broke away, leaving them stranded.

“The outdoor environment is beautiful but can also be very dangerous,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Don Hamilton.

According to Hamilton, strong winds are preventing ice from forming on Lake Michigan. He says most of the buildup is inland right now.

Hamilton recommends, before heading out, people check the weather, bring tools, like a waterproof radio and ice picks, and notifying someone of your plans, such as how long you’ll be out and where you’ll be at. People should also dress for the water temperature and wear a life jacket.

“If you do fall into the ice, you have one minute to catch your breath, about 10 minutes of meaningful movement, depending on what you’re wearing, and then you have about an hour until, hopefully, but hopefully, not lose consciousness,” said Hamilton.

If there is less than four inches of ice, it’s best to stay off the ice.

“We want everybody to enjoy the waterborne environment to the best of their ability,” said Hamilton. “However, be prepared.”