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The original item was published from 1/15/2019 12:36:28 PM to 3/2/2019 12:00:27 AM.

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Fire Department

Posted on: January 15, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Whitman Fire Department Warns Residents About Unsafe Ice Conditions


With multiple ice rescues in the state yesterday, Chief Timothy Grenno would like to warn Whitman residents to avoid unsafe ice conditions and remind people that ice rinks are the only places considered safe to skate.

Though temperatures have been on the colder side recently, Whitman officials warn that at this time it has not been cold enough for long enough to make it safe to walk, skate or fish on the ice in any waterway in Whitman.

As a policy, the Whitman Fire Department does not certify whether any bodies of water are safe to use for recreational purposes. Those who do choose to go out on ice should stay away from all ice in the area of open water, flowing water or where the ice looks slushy or thin.

Chief Grenno and the Whitman Fire Department offer the following general ice safety guidelines to all residents:

Thin Ice:

The Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs says ice should always be measured in multiple places before testing it with your weight. Ice 2 inches thick or less should be avoided completely.

Ice with a depth of 4 inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot. Five inches of ice is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs. Eight to 12 inches is necessary for a small car, while 12 to 15 inches of ice is necessary for trucks.

General Ice and Cold Water Safety:

Never go onto ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.

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 decay, 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 is a danger sign, indicating 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 weaker than pond ice.

Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only 1 inch thick 10 feet away.

What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice:

Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, try to throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.) If this does not work, call 911 and get away from the ice before you also become a victim. 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.

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