Police are reminding southwest Michigan residents how to be safe on ice this winter. Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott tells WSJM News ice has to be five inches thick to hold the weight of a person and eight inches thick for a snowmobile or ATV. He also notes you can now buy low-profile flotation vests you can wear under or over your coat when out on the ice.
Abbott has four key safety tips for being on the ice. First, if you hear the ice crack, your group should spread out with everyone lying down to distribute their weight. Second, Abbott says if someone falls through the ice, don’t run to the hole and instead use a pole, branch, or rope to reach the person. Third, if you fall through ice, stay calm and call out for help while kicking your feet and getting your hands and arms up onto the safer ice. Finally, the sheriff says if your pet has wandered on to dangerous ice, do not follow it. Try to coax the pet off the ice without endangering yourself.
Sheriff Abbott adds hypothermia is the biggest threat when falling through ice. Get medical attention as soon as you’re back to safety.