By Camille Aubin
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If the urge to walk on the lake takes you, think twice. The ice is currently not thick enough to support a person’s weight and probably won’t be for a long time to come.
Two people attempted to cross the bay of Lake Windermere between the arena to the other side in Windermere only to find themselves falling into the water 20 feet from shore. “They fell through, we went out there, and we threw a rope to them and we just walked them back,” said Invermere bylaw officer Mark Topliff of the incident that happened over the weekend. “They got probably 20 feet further from the bank, fell trough and started yelling. It was only up to their waists.”
According to the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the minimum ice thickness for a person to go ice fishing should be at least four inches, fives inches for snowmachines, and between eight to 12 inches for cars.
According to the Red Cross, here is what you should do if you find yourself in an emergency on the ice: Call for help; Resist the urge to get back on the ice immediately. The ice is not strong enough where you fall in the water. Try to calm down and catch your breath. Turn towards the shore to face the direction you entered the ice. Support yourself on the broken ice, but do not put your weight on it. Kick your legs to try and bring your body to a horizontal with the water surface; Gently climb back up onto the ice, continuing to kick your legs; When you are back on the ice, crawl or roll away from the hole with your arms and legs as wide as possible to distribute your weight on the surface of the ice. Do not stand up! Look for the shore with your eyes and make sure you crawl in the right direction.
Here’s what to do if you witness an accident on ice: The safest way is to rescue from shore. Call for help. Determine if you can get help quickly from trained first aid professionals (police, firefighters or paramedics) or bystanders. Check if you can reach the person with a long pole or a branch from the shore; if so, lie down and hold out the pole to the person. If you must go on the ice, bring a long pole or branch to check the thickness of the ice in front of you. Carry an object to reach or throw at the person, such as a pole, a weighted rope, a heaving line or a tree branch. As you approach the hole where the ice broke, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl towards the hole. Still lying down, extend or throw the rescue device to the person; Ask the person to keep kicking their legs as you pull them towards you. Move the person to a safe place, on the shore or where you are sure the ice is solid. Call for help.