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Staying Safe Out on the Ice

After a water rescue Thursday morning, officials are cautioning people to be careful out on the ice.
Thursday January 9, 2014 - Around 8:30am multiple crews responded to a report of a man in the water near the end of East Avenue. Two Port Authority workers saw the man and went out on the ice to help. The two were already out of the water when rescue crews arrived, and suffered no signs of hypothermia. Captain Fred Gillespie, a member of the Erie Fire Department Dive Team is trained in ice dives, he says if you are going out on the ice alone, the most important thing is to tell someone where you are going, and how long you plan to be gone. The ice on the bay is not monitored, and varying levels of thickness are common on the Great Lakes. It’s an “enter at your own risk” situation.
The Coast Guard wants to remind the public to make a serious investment and commitment to ice safety, since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes. If people do choose to go on to the ice, they should remember the acronym I.C.E., “Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment."
* Intelligence - Know the weather and ice conditions, know where you're going, and know how to call for help. Also help others find you by remaining upright and standing to give rescuers a bigger target to locate you. Only do this if it is safe to do so.
* Clothing - Have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. The public is encouraged to wear retro-reflective clothing in case of a search taking place at night. Avoid wearing cotton and wear layers of clothing that wick away moisture like Polypropylene, which retains more of your body heat than any other fabric. Polypropylene thermals are the best extreme cold weather base layer of clothing made.
* Equipment - Have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc.
Freezing air and water temperatures significantly decrease survival time for persons immersed in the water or trapped on the ice. Cold water kills quickly! Surprisingly, cold water is defined as any water temperature less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The fact that air temperatures might be far above freezing is irrelevant when people unexpectedly enter the water.
While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on cold water and ice around the Great Lakes is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures.

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