For Immediate Release - January 07, 2014

State Fire Marshal Coan Issues Ice Safety Tips

Dangers of Thin Ice

“The only truly safe ice is at your local skating rink!” said State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. “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.

Don’t Become a Victim

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

  • Reach from shore with a branch, 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 yourself 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.

Protect Your Pets: Keep Dogs Leashed

“This is the time of year where unleashed dogs and would-be rescuers also frequently fall through the ice,” said Coan, “Protect your pets by keeping them leashed when near water or frozen water.” He added, “If a pet falls through the ice, call 9-1-1 to get help coming immediately. Fire departments have the gear and equipment for cold water rescues.”

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.