Staying safe on icy ponds or lakes

The Fort Wayne Fire Department recommends people check the thickness of the ice before walking on it.

Posted: Jan. 15, 2018 10:54 PM
Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 11:09 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - With the freezing, thawing, and refreezing we've seen across northeast Indiana, the Fort Wayne Fire Department said just because ice looks safe, it may not be.

"Your first instinct is to get out of there but sometimes it's too late so we were lucky," said Jacob Engle.

Engle attempted to walk across the pond at Lakeside Park with his friends Monday.

However, they heard the ice crack halfway across.

"We were worried about falling in and stuff obviously," he said.

"The ice can be very deceiving when it freezes and thaws. It weakens quite a bit," said Fort Wayne Fire Department Lt. Ryan Smith.

Smith is on the fire department's dive team.

He said there isn't much time if something were to happen to you on an icy pond.

"You only have about 10 minutes to get yourself out of trouble before you can no longer use your arms or legs," Smith said.

Smith recommended people check to see how thick the ice is, four to eight inches is ideal for recreation.

"The only good way to check the ice is to drill a hole in the ice and to take an actual measurement," said Smith.

Instead, Engle and his friends picked at the ice with their shovels to see how thick the ice was Monday.

"We also shovel a path and see, because you can kind of tell how thick the ice is to see if it's safe enough to walk on," said Engle.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recration Department checks ice on ponds at city parks.

There will be a red flag up and a red light on next to the pond if the ice isn't safe to be on.

The flag was up at Lakeside Park Monday.

"If you find yourself on weak ice, or the ice starts to break, you want to get down flat on the ice and spread your weight out," Smith said.

He also recommends going with a buddy who stays on the shore so they can call 911 if something happens.

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