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Posted on: January 3, 2023

Ice Safety Concerns

nash pond frozen

Immediate Release 

Contact: Christopher Norris, Fire Chief
cnorris@easthamptonma.gov

Ice Safety Concerns
 

Easthampton, MA — The Easthampton Fire Department would like to caution the public about the potential dangers of thin ice on the city’s many ponds, streams and rivers, and ask the public to be responsible and mindful of local conditions, aware of the possible dangers while on the ice and to remain diligent in following prudent ice safety practices. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice and the thickness is highly variable at this time of year, and water can be so cold that an unexpected fall into water can be extremely dangerous.

“Many factors including temperature fluctuations and water flow can affect how and when ice freezes and thaws, making it unpredictable and extremely dangerous for anyone trying to walk on or cross it,” said Fire Chief Christopher Norris. “If you witness anyone falling through the ice, call 911 immediately. Do not go out on the ice but rather reach or throw an object to the individual that could assist them.”  

Here are some tips for remaining as safe as possible on the ice:

  • Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you from shore or go for help if you fall through the ice.
  • Go out onto the ice prepared. Make sure to have a cell phone with you in case of emergency, as well as rope or ice picks to help you or someone you’re with should someone fall in.
  • Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt a rescue. Call 911 instead.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.
  • Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing.
  • Slush indicates that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
  • Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally more dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only one inch thick 10 feet away.

What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice:

  • Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice, call 911. If you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help, but do not attempt to go out onto the ice to rescue them. 
  • Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
  • If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice. Once safe, find shelter and change out of your wet clothes. Seek medical assistance immediately.

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Photo credit Mateusz Marcinowski

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