Fire and law enforcement departments warn of ice dangers

PEWAUKEE, WI (CBS 58) – Cold temperatures and fresh amount of snow means dangerous conditions on area rivers and lakes.

The ice may look solid, but that can be deceiving.

Ice conditions and thickness aren’t monitored by fire and law enforcement department.

That’s why they want you to be well aware of the dangers. They also want you to be prepared if you fall through the ice or see someone who needs help.

“There is no such thing as safe ice,” says Lieutenant Tim Hetherington with the Pewaukee Fire Department. “We can’t predict where it’s thick and where it’s not.”

For about 20 years Lieutenant Hetherington has been a part of the Pewaukee Fire Department. They are the only ones in the area with an airboat used for ice rescues.

“Typically, we do get called out once or twice a season, it seems to be about the average,” says Hetherington.

Counties like Kenosha, Dodge and Sheboygan have activated lake rescues within the last week.

“Use the buddy system,” says Heterington. “If you’re going out at night make sure you have reflective gear, flashlights. You also want to make sure you a have flotation device with you in case you do go through. Ice picks are a good thing.”

“That’s a regular call that we get,” says Deputy Daniel Sponder of the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Sponder is a scuba diver on the underwater search and recovery team in Waukesha.

“Ice conditions can change dramatically and that’s something you always have to be prepared for and cognizant of,” says Sponder.

Sponder says if you see someone fall through the ice call 9-1-1. That’s because if you try to help by yourself there is a good chance you will need to be rescued too.

“Your best bet is to use as much of your energy,” say Hetherington. “So, you’re going to want to kick as hard as you can to get your upper body out of the water as possible.”

Officials says the snow covered ground we currently have, doesn’t help ice develop. It acts more like a blanket and can hide the danger.

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