Rushville Republican

January 28, 2013

Ponds, lakes and rivers pose frozen danger

Frank Denzler
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — In spite of recent sub-freezing temperatures, public safety officials are urging caution when near or on area waterways such as ponds, lakes and rivers.

Cold weather may lull some individuals, especially children, into a false sense of security regarding recreational opportunities such as ice skating, ice fishing and even walking out on the aforementioned waterways.

The extended forecast is for continued sub-freezing temperatures to remain in place during the coming days, with additional measurable snow by week’s end.

A concern of local responders is that although a waterway may appear to be solid and frozen it may really just be a thin layer of ice unable to sustain the weight of a person or persons.

Even a slight warming can diminish the thickness of ice. Frozen ponds and waterways should never be considered 100 percent safe, even following extended periods of below freezing temperatures.

The obvious danger of falling through the ice is drowning, but hypothermia is another real danger to those who are able to free themselves from the icy water.

There are many factors which effect the quality and the strength of ice as it forms.

Prolonged sub-freezing temperatures form a thick layer of solid ice; however, safe ice does not form as quickly or as solidly over moving water and over underwater springs.

Solid ice also does not form near surface obstructions such as rocks or tree stumps.

Temperature fluctuations can also form pockets and soft spots in the ice that may appear solid, but are not.

It is important to note that ice does not form at a consistent thickness on the same body of water. As a safety measure, the thickness should be checked frequently at different locations. A spud bar or auger are recommended items to check the thickness of ice.

Winter water enthusiasts should be very suspicious of grayish or green ice. These colors generally mean the ice is weak and unable to sustain weight. Ice that is bluish in color is generally considered to be the strongest.

A rule of thumb is that four inches of “good ice” is usually safe to skate or fish on; however, in order to sustain the weight of a snowmobile, six inches of solid ice is the minimum required.

Common sense should also be used and children should always be supervised when on ice.

It is also recommended that someone be informed of your whereabouts and when you expect to return from ice-related activities.

If you witnesses someone fall through the ice it is important to not run up to them. Instead, find something to extend to them such as a rope, ladder or cord. The item can then be used to pull the person to safety.

If you fall through the ice you should try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from, put your arms over the ice which you just fell through, and work your way forward by kicking your feet.

Once you are out of the water do not attempt to stand; roll away from the hole. By using this technique you can distribute your weight over a larger surface until you are again on solid ice.

As a safe alternative to fun on ice, the Rushville Parke Department has constructed an ice skating rink on the stage of the Riverside Park Amphitheater.

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106