Life saving tips: What to do if you fall through the ice

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WDAY: A few simple things can be the difference between life and death on the ice this winter.

As the experts say, there’s no such thing as “safe ice.”

Even frozen over ponds and rivers can have soft spots, but a little knowledge and the right equipment can save a life.

Patience is a virtue.

“Is it that important to be on the ice, that you might die doing it?,” said Pete Fendt, Valley Water Rescue.

Never more so than when it involves thin ice early in the season.

Just a few days ago boys were caught playing on some dangerously thin ice in West Fargo.

Now, Valley Water Rescue is practicing thin ice drills on the same pond.

Pete Fendt says people need the right equipment if they’re doing anything near water.

“The important part is keeping yourself dry, then there’s a good chance you can spend a lot of time in the water,” said Fendt.

Fendt says a waterproof coat and lifejacket will save you.

“The water is so cold you start losing your motor skills after a minute,” said Fendt.

And only a few minutes after that, the cold claims your ability to swim.

If you can’t climb out of the hole, there’s still hope of a rescue.

“People will grab on the edge of the ice and freeze themselves to the edge, and save their lives.”

I jumped into the water myself to see how difficult climbing out is.

Even with all the proper equipment, getting out and crawling to land was not easy, which is why Fendt recommends grabbing ice picks before you venture out on a lake.

Of course, your chances of going under drop dramatically if you have a little patience and wait for thicker ice.

You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to ice picks, something as simple as a pair of screwdrivers do the trick as well.

If you do find yourself on thin ice, the experts say it’s safest to roll to land, rather than walking or crawling.

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