By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Winter sports enthusiasts should take extra precautions to ensure safety on the ice this winter.
Camanche firefighters will perform an ice rescue demonstration and provide winter safety tips at a Clinton County Conservation event Saturday.
“When you’re out on the ice with our constantly changing weather, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right precautions,” Assistant Chief Jeff Moore said.
One of the best ways to stay safe on the ice is to make sure the ice is thick enough to be out and about. Clear ice is ideal; if the ice is white or opaque it is water saturated. Lake ice tends to be about 15 percent thicker than river ice. Outdoor activists also should be aware of spots occupied by water fowl, where there is often open water. When dealing with snow-covered ice or uncertain ice depths, the best advice is to do a drill inspection, according to Moore.
One fisherman can stand safely on 4 inches.
Five inches will hold a snowmobile and 12 to 15 inches will hold a pick-up truck. If the ice is 2 inches or less, the safest thing to do is stay off.
The Camanche Fire Department has four ice rescue kits and will demonstrate how the tools are used by staging an ice rescue on the Mississippi near the Mississippi River Eco Tourism Center. They have rarely had to use the kits.
“We used our gear to save a deer and a dog that were stranded,” Moore said. “While we haven’t had to save any people yet, we make sure we train each year. We are very fortunate to have this equipment and the training.”
Calling for help should always be the first step in helping someone who has fallen in, according to Moore. Talking them through the situation is key to determining the stage of hypothermia and keeping them calm. If a rope is available, that is the best way to reach the person.
“As a bystander, you should let the rescue team help out, instead of going in,” Moore said. “We don’t need more victims.”
Outdoorsman can take precautions to avoid serious consequences. Ice picks and ice cleats are available at many sporting good stores. Fishermen can even construct their own picks by using a screwdriver. Moore also recommends carrying a rope, just in case someone falls in.
“The best thing you can do is stay in pairs and check the weather before you leave and dress for it,” Moore said.
Winter is also a good time of year to check fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as the fire risk is high. In the chill months, residents should make sure they read the directions for space heaters and keep away from furniture or anything else that could start on fire.
The ice rescue and cold weather safety program is 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Rock Creek Marina and Campground.