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State Fire Marshal warns stay off melting ice

Posted at 3:48 PM, Feb 23, 2018

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urges Michiganders to stay off the ice.

“Thawing ice conditions on Michigan’s lakes, rivers and ponds are dangerous and will become unpredictable as temperatures rise,” said Sehlmeyer. “Late winter ice many times leads to dangerous situations that could end in tragedy.”

With the rain and warmer temps that we've had of late, the ice situation on the area lakes is sketchy. Calls have already begun for adults, children, and pets that have fallen through ice due to changing conditions.

“We ask parents and pet owners to keep children and pets off the ice as the melt begins,” Sehlmeyer said. “Always call 9-1-1 to report individual(s) and pets in the water needing to be rescued. Nearly 85 percent of ice rescue emergency 9-1-1 calls are a result of individual(s) or pet owners trying to save a pet who fell through the ice.”

He also says remember the 1-20-1 principle if you should fall into near-freezing water. "In the first minute get control of your breathing. The next 10 minutes is your window of meaningful movement to escape. You will have up to one hour to escape or be rescued before you become unconscious."

According to Sehlmeyer, you cannot judge ice thickness and safety, especially in late winter and early spring. Watch out for thin ice conditions that can hide cracks and weak spots such as: slushy ice; any ice with water on it; and snow-covered ice. Ice that has thawed and re-frozen is weaker and will appear milky.

As the snow melt increases, ice will become thinner and more dangerous, and may melt faster due to an increase in water flow and stronger currents as lakes and rivers rise.

“If you do see an emergency on the ice or near bodies of water, always call 9-1-1 first! First responders are trained and equipped for ice and water rescues, including the rescue of pets,” said Sehlmeyer. “We want to remind the public how dangerous thawing bodies of water can be as ice melts.”