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It may be cold, but take care around ice

As temperatures drop, and bodies of water throughout the area freeze over, it still pays to heed safety precautions while on frozen lakes, rivers and ponds.

MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz recommends the use of recreational skating areas provided by the state and local communities.

The strength and thickness of ice should be known before any activity takes place, he cautioned in an alert issued before this weekend’s cold snap. He also offered the following advice:

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

Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weak and open ice.

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 15 percent weaker.

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

Reach-Throw-Go. If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help or call 911, 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 from which you came. 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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