How to protect yourself on frozen ponds and lakes - WNEM TV 5

How to protect yourself on frozen ponds and lakes

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As temperatures in Mid-Michigan hover below zero, ponds and lakes are frozen over making way for some fun winter activities.

However, if you aren't careful, that fun can turn deadly.

“You have about, depending on how cold the water is, less than maybe 15 minutes to survive in that before you lose consciousness,” said Chief John Clark with the Delta Township Fire Department.

Clark said there are some tell-tale signs that ice is unsafe.

If it looks uneven, has cracks and slush, or is covered in snow it might not be completely frozen. However, you can't always tell the strength of ice simply by how it looks, which is why Clark said there are important steps you should take before heading out onto it.

“First rule is never go out on the ice by yourself, always make sure somebody knows you're going out on the ice. Really, they should have visual or verbal contact with you,” Clark said.

You'll also want to bring ice picks, wear appropriate footwear, and have on a life preserver under your winter coat.

While you should never be on the ice alone, if you ever find yourself in that situation and you fall through, Clark said it's important to stay calm and act fast.

“You get those ice picks out, go to where the ice was solid, typically in the direction you came from, maybe where you set your shanty up when you came out. Get them dug into the ice, kick your feet in the water, and try to pull yourself up from the ice,” he said.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said you should never drive a car or truck on ice, but if choose to anyway don't wear your life preserver just have it with you in the car.

Also, take your seat belt off and keep your windows rolled down for an easy escape if the car falls through.

Copyright 2018 CBS News / WLNS. All rights reserved. 

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