TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – People of the Midwest are no stranger to rapidly changing weather conditions, and many often embrace the change. Next week’s cold snap may keep a lot of people indoors, but you will likely see skaters and ice fishermen venturing out onto the freshly frozen lakes and rivers of northwest Ohio. United States Coast Guard ToledoHowever, the annual ice rescue census can serve as a cautionary story.
“We don’t condone going out on the ice – we’re a search and rescue unit here – so no ice is safe ice,” said Johnny Benitez, 3rd class petty officer. “In 2018 we had about 6 [ice rescues]… in 2017 we had 10. The number of ice rescues usually depends on the weather, the thickness of the ice and of course on whether there is any ice at all. “
“Always ready” means “always ready” – and while they haven’t looked at ice rescues this winter, these Coast Guard members keep their promise and motto. “We definitely do our best to keep up with training, prepare our equipment, and make sure it is up to date in case we need to act,” says Benitez. “There are many factors that affect the strength of the ice – the wind, the current of the water – so we do our best to maintain, prepare and train our equipment to take that into account as well.”
Typically, any egg less than 3 inches thick is a non-starter. 4 inches is your bare minimum for safe walking or skating. The numbers rise, of course, as you add more weight – with at least a foot of ice thickness for medium-sized vehicles. Even so, with so many other factors affecting the structural integrity of this frozen surface – snowpack, as well as the wind and waves mentioned above – the Coast Guard repeats its position: No ice is safe ice.
If you misjudge and fail, the agency follows a “1-10-1” rule: “One minute – you have 60 seconds to get your breathing and emotions under control,” explains Benitez. After that, you have 10 minutes of meaningful exercise – try standing on the ice shelf – and finally an hour to stay calm and conscious, hoping that help will arrive. “
When you’re back on safe shores or have a dry phone, the Coast Guard is just a phone call away. Benitez offers an even faster way to get help: “There are always tools and resources you can use, such as: Coast Guard AppThis will give you a longitude / latitude position, as well as the phone number for the closest coast guard and 911. If we have a longitude / longitude position with these GPS coordinates, we get a more precise location instead of just visual markings can help you faster. “
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