Ice fishing is a popular past time in the area, but do you know what to do if you fall through the ice? For the last 31 years, the Erie County Sheriff Department’s Scuba Team and the Erie Skin Divers Club have hosted ice rescue demonstrations for the public.
Norma Carey, Co-Captain of Erie County Sheriff Scuba Team and President of Erie Skin Divers Club, says, “the whole point of us being here today is to show the average person what they can do if they fall through the ice, how they can rescue themselves. And more importantly, how they can assist somebody else who has fallen through without endangering themselves.”
The demonstrations utilize objects like tree branches and milk jugs as well as spikes made from large nails or other pointed objects with a rope attached.
Carey says, “…it’s important that we get the word out. We especially like to promote something as simple as fishermen or anyone venturing out on the ice get a pair of spikes at your local hardware store.”
This tool, according to instructors, is a must-have because once someone falls into the freezing water, their time is limited. Carey says if “you can dig into the ice and pull yourself out, it would be the difference between you getting out or not… even one of our divers said he had an incident one time. And, thank God he had the spikes with him. So, it’s just some simple little things can make all the difference”.
In addition to the everyday items that can be used to help someone out of the water, the demonstrators also showed how to use safety devices such as life preservers and ice crosses located along the Bayfront.
The organizations who host the demonstrations every year say there haven’t been many reported cases of drownings from falling through the ice, but hopefully, that’s because their hard work is paying off.