Chief Robert Hart reports the Acton Fire Department recently completed ice rescue training and provides critical safety tips.
ACTON -- Acton Firefighters conducted live training on Ice House Pond (Firefighters Richard Sullivan and David Gershen shown to the right), near the intersection of Concord and Great Roads, on Saturday, Dec. 28. Participants donned a specialized suit and simulated their response to a victim falling through the ice.
The training program will be repeated multiple times in the coming weeks to ensure that all members of the department are equipped with the skills they need to support ice rescue operations.
Firefighters used a chainsaw to cut a hole into the ice, which was approximately four inches thick, to conduct the exercise. Following the conclusion of the day’s training, crews left a large branch laid across the hole to alert anyone who may be on the ice to the location of the hole.
"This training is absolutely essential for firefighters serving in a cold-weather climate the way ours do," Chief Hart said. "However, it’s important for everyone to remember that it’s never truly ’safe’ to go out onto open ice, and those who do should recognize the risks and take necessary precautions to protect themselves."
Chief Hart and the Acton Fire Department recommend residents familiarize themselves with the following ice safety tips:
The Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs says ice should always be measured in multiple places before testing it with your weight. Ice two inches thick or less should be avoided completely. Ice with a depth of four inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot. Five inches of ice is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs. Eight to 12 inches is necessary for a small car, while 12 to 15 inches of ice is necessary for trucks.
General Ice and Cold Water Safety
- Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.
- Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt a rescue. Call 911 instead.
- New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decay, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing.
- Slush is a danger sign, indicating that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
- Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally 15 percent weaker.
- Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot and be only one inch thick 10 feet away.
What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice
- Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.) If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
- If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.
If you have any questions, call the Acton Fire Department at 978-929-7722. If you feel that someone may be in danger, dial 911.
For more fire department safety tips, visit actonma.gov/fire.