Multiple State Agencies Warn of Thin Ice Dangers

 by Tom MarinoJanuary 23, 2022

Multiple state agencies issued a warning to members of the public about the potential dangers of thin ice on streams and rivers, and asked for diligent practices from all.

The Massachusetts State Police [MSP], the Department of Conservation and Recreation [DCR], the Department of Fish and Game [DFG] and the Massachusetts Environmental Police [EP] issued a joint statement on Friday, January 21.

If you witness a person or animal fall through the ice, call for help before attempting a rescue on your own. Always use something long or throw something to help the victim while you are awaiting assistance from first responders. In all circumstances, individuals are urged to put safety first. B

Here are some safety tips to follow when near bodies of water during the winter months:

  • Parents should always closely watch and supervise their children.
  • Never go onto ice alone.
  • Always keep pets on a leash (if a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue yourself - instead, call for help).
  • Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it from freezing. It also hides cracks as well as other weak spots.
  • Ice formed on flowing water (including springs under the surface) is generally weaker than ice over still water.
  • Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick in one spot and an inch thick in another.
  • If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw something to them (a rope, tree branch, jumper cables from a car, etc.).
    • If this does not work, go or phone for help. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
  • If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet.
    • Once the ice is solid enough to hold you, and you can pull yourself out, remain laid out on the ice (do not stand; lying down spreads your weight across a wider area, lessening your weight on any one spot) and roll away from the hole.
    • Crawl back the way you came, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice or ground
  • As the season progresses, plan accordingly and use caution, as older ice conditions greatly vary and are subject to rapid changes.

The Massachusetts State Police reminds the public to call 911 in an emergency, such as a person or a pet falling through the ice. Additionally, several state parks and facilities provide outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the winter season, some with DCR rangers and/or staff facilitating programs.

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