CRYSTAL LAKE — The Crystal Lake Fire Department held an ice rescue training exercise Friday at the Three Oaks Recreational Area.
The drill was designed to make sure responders are prepared to remove someone who has fallen through the ice.
Kirk Kiermas, Crystal Lake dive coordinator, said its important to be aware of the dangers of walking on the ice, especially when temperatures fluctuate.
“When we have a winter like this year, when we're in the 40s and even in the 50s, and the next day we drop down into the teens, we've got a lot of uneven freezing and thawing of the ice,” Kiermas said. “And it can create thin spots in the ice.”
Kiermas urged people to take extreme caution when skating or walking on ice. Even though one patch of ice is thick enough to walk on, the ice may be several inches thinner just a few yards away.
It's important to always wear a life vest when on the ice, and people should always tell someone when and where they plan to go skating, Kiermas said.
If a person witnesses someone falling through the ice, he or she should call 911 immediately and not attempt to jump in the ice to rescue them, Kiermas said.
“When one person falls in, it's very easy for the second person, or even third person, to fall in because the ice conditions are known to be weak,” he said.
If you fall through the ice, try and place your arms on top of the ice and wait for the fire department to arrive. This will allow your clothes to freeze to the ice and will keep you from drifting underneath the ice.
After an unseasonably warm winter day, it's best to wait at least a week for temperatures to remain below freezing before going out on the ice, Kiermas said