With above average temperatures throughout most of the country this year, the U.S. Coast Guard is urging that individuals who choose to recreate on frozen lakes and rivers to take proper safety precautions after two events demonstrated the danger and unpredictability of ice in the Great Lakes.
There were no injuries reported during the two incidents.
Seven individuals were rescued after being stranded on an ice floe about 300 yards from Riley’s Bay in Green Bay. A rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay, Wis., aboard a 22-foot Special Purpose Craft—Airboat, and a rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., were dispatched to the scene, but all seven people were assisted by local authorities prior to their arrival.
Also 36 cars reportedly fell through the ice on Lake Winnebago during an ice fishing tournament. There were no injuries or pollution reported and tow trucks were called to remove the cars from the water.
“The ice conditions we’ve seen so far on the Great Lakes have been remarkably unpredictable,” said Capt. Steve Torpey, chief of response for the 9th Coast Guard District. “The relatively warm weather has made for some particularly treacherous situations, and we were very lucky there were no human tragedies in either of these incidents.”
The Coast Guard wants to remind the public to make a serious investment and commitment to ice safety on the Great Lakes, since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes. If people do choose to go on to the ice, however, 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
- Clothing: have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature
- Equipment: have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc
Although air temperatures may seem relatively warm, lake temperatures remain extremely cold. Immersion into icy water quickly leads to hypothermia and possibly death within minutes.