For Immediate Release - January 14, 2013

State Fire Marshal Issues Ice Safety Tips

“Ice and cold water safety is always a key concern here in New England,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. “At the first cold snap, people mistakenly think that the ice is safe to walk on. This is the time of year where unleashed dogs and would-be rescuers also frequently fall through the ice,” he added.

Dangers of Thin Ice

“There are several variables that affect the strength of ice on bodies of water, so many that no ice can ever be declared completely safe, especially running water in streams, brooks, rivers,” said Coan. Air temperature changes continuously, resulting in thawing and re-freezing. In addition, uneven ice thickness, water currents, tree stumps, rocks and groundwater springs can weaken the ice. “The only truly safe ice is at your local skating rink!” said Coan. 

Don’t Become a Victim

If you see someone fall through ice remember to “Reach, Throw and Go”.

  • Reach from shore with a pole, ladder or similar object.
  • Throw a rope to the victim or something to keep them afloat such as a life preserver or boat seat cushion.
  • Go for help and dial 9-1-1. Do not go out onto the ice where you can become a victim yourself.

If You Fall In

If you fall through ice, it is vital to not panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms onto the ice and place your body against the edge of the ice and kick with your legs to push you forward out of the water, onto the ice. If you break through again, keep trying until you are on solid ice. Remain lying down to keep your weight distributed evenly. If you stand up, you could fall back in. Roll away from the hole and crawl back towards the shore. Get medical help immediately.

For more information the Department of Fire Services has a pamphlet and a PowerPoint™ presentation on ice and cold water safety. This information is suitable for the general public and is of particular importance to children.

  1. Tri-fold pamphlet on Ice and Cold Water Safety in English and Spanish.
  2. PowerPoint™ presentation on Ice and Cold Water Safety for middle school and older grades.

Additional information on Ice and Cold Water Safety can be found on the Department of Fire Services website at www.mass.gov/dfs then click on Fire Safety Topics.  Also, the Centers for Disease Control water safety link http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html