MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — With the colder weather, the tops of lakes, rivers, and many ponds are starting to freeze.
This is great for those who love ice fishing, hockey, and more.
“As you can see, the ice is very unstable right now with the fluctuating temperatures, and the river still flowing so it creates different currents. So even if you’re fairly far downstream, it can still cause problems with ice thickness,” said Jason Babinchak, a battalion chief at the Minot Fire Department.
Babinchak says the department does these types of rescues about two or three times a year and they usually happen when the ice begins to form and again when it starts melting in the Spring.
He says there are a number of reasons a person, or even a pet, would need to be rescued from the ice.
“The river’s bubbling and stuff and kids like the water. And sometimes they like to go out and play. They get excited about being able to go out on the ice and play hockey or just slide on the ice. Ice fisherman, other things like that. Sometimes people go down the embankment, trying to cut across the river instead of the next bridge and sometimes they fall through,” said Babinchak.
If you do find yourself with someone who has fallen through the ice, it’s best to act fast.
Babinchak has a phrase that will help you out.
“We reach, throw, row, and go. So reach with something, a stick or whatever, throw a rope to ’em and then call 911 obviously right away. And then we’ll if we have to, we’ll go out to ’em or row, we have a specialty boat for this also. Just typically stay away from the ice and call for help as soon as possible,” said Babinchak.
He says now is not a good time to do any of those ice activities, because the ice isn’t thick enough.
And he has a few more tips to help keep you safe.
“Go with an experienced person that’s used to ice. Try to stay off the ice for a few more weeks till it solidifies and the temperatures stabilize below zero more than they’ve been or below freezing. And just stay up on the banks, stay away from the river and just observe for now,” said Babinchak.
The suits that the firefighters wear for ice rescues work by keeping the person’s body heat in, and it makes them more buoyant, so they stay afloat.
The suit also features a belt, which allows them to be hooked onto a rope and pulled out.