ICE: Intelligence, clothing, equipment

Ice Rescue team members from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee discuss a training scenario on the frozen McKinley Marina in Milwaukee. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens.

Ice Rescue team members from Coast Guard Station Milwaukee discuss a training scenario on the frozen McKinley Marina in Milwaukee. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens.

Many recreational boaters in colder parts of the country have put their boats away until spring, but scores of boaters still rely on their vessels for hunting, fishing and transportation.

Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Fey, from Coast Guard Station Two Rivers, Wis., rescues a member of the Manitowoc, Wis., Fire Department during a joint agency ice rescue training in Manitowoc. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Fey, from Coast Guard Station Two Rivers, Wis., rescues a member of the Manitowoc, Wis., Fire Department during a joint agency ice rescue training in Manitowoc. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Once familiar lakes or rivers can freeze over and become unpredictable and dangerous. Ice is an ever-changing surface, and the fluctuating weather conditions affect the ice’s stability. In an effort to prevent, prepare and educate those who are near the ice, here are five facts about ice:

1. Ice usually freezes from shore outward and new ice is stronger than old ice.

2. Direct freezing of lake water is stronger than ice formed from melting snow or refrozen ice.

3. Obstruction such as rocks, logs, vegetation and pilings affect the strength of ice. Heat from these obstructions slows ice formation. Ice shifting and expanding will create pressure cracks and ridges around the obstructions.

4. Underwater streams or springs with flowing water will cause weak spots by keeping the water circulating, making any ice over or near moving water weak.

5. Ice near the shore of a frozen lake may be unsafe due to pressures outward and upward which cause cracks to appear. Ice closer to shore is weaker because of shifting, expansion, and sunlight reflecting off the bottom. This buckling shore ice continually thaws and refreezes.

Keeping safe on the ice is as easy as remembering ICE:

Seaman Michael Holmes prepares to pull Seaman Jekeydon Pratcher out of the water during a training scenario on the frozen McKinley Marina in Milwaukee. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens.

Seaman Michael Holmes prepares to pull Seaman Jekeydon Pratcher out of the water during a training scenario on the frozen McKinley Marina in Milwaukee. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Brian Dykens.

I – Intelligence: check the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help/assistance.

C- Clothing: wear the proper anti-exposure clothes with multiple layers. If possible, wear a dry suit to prevent hypothermia, which can occur within minutes after falling through the ice.

E – Equipment: have the proper equipment such as a marine band radio, life jackets and screw drivers.

Share these key safety tips with your friends. Have a fun – but safe! – winter.

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