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With the cold weather in full swing, the Pocatello Fire Department would like to remind citizens that the ice on the Portneuf River is not safe for kids to play on.
“Generally, ice that forms on moving water, such as rivers, streams, and brooks, is never perfectly safe,” said Pocatello Fire Chief David Gates.
The thickness of ice on ponds, rivers, and lakes can vary depending on water currents, springs, depth, and natural objects such as tree stumps or rocks. It can be a foot thick in one area and just inches thick a few feet away. Daily changes in temperature also affect its strength. Because of these factors, no one can declare the naturally occurring ice to be completely safe. The only “safe” ice is at a skating rink.
Should you venture out to a lake or pond this winter please follow these important safety tips:
• The most important tool is common sense and remember there is no such thing as safe ice.
• Never go on the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.
• Always keep pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue. Go for help.
• Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but it can also prevent it from getting thicker or freezing at all.
• Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate over an entire body of water. The ice can be one foot thick in some areas and only one inch thick in other areas.
• If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to safely reach them from shore, throw something to them (a rope, tree branch, floatation device of any kind). If that does not work, call 911 and get immediate assistance for the victim. Do not become a victim yourself.
• If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn in the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken ice surface, and attempt to work your body forward by kicking your feet. Once the ice is solid enough to hold you, and you can pull yourself out, remain lying down on the ice and roll away from the hole. Never stand up. Crawl back the way you came, keeping your weight distributed until you get to solid ice or ground.
• General ice thickness guidelines:
2” or less – Stay off! 4” Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5” Snowmobile or ATV 8”-12” Car or small pick-up
12”-15” Medium truck