Frozen lakes present a draw, particularly to children and men who revel in outdoor activities such as ice skating and snowmobiling. Sadly, frozen lakes are an accident waiting to happen; public officials should work to raise awareness about their dangers through advertisements and signage located at main access points. Every year there are tragic deaths after someone slips through a thin spot on the ice and rescue attempts fail.

It is best to avoid frozen lakes early or late in the season when the lake is more likely to have thin spots. Do not go out on a frozen lake alone, let someone else know where you will be and have a plan in case of accident. If you decide to venture out on a frozen lake in a vehicle, be prepared to bail out quickly. Keep your seatbelt unbuckled and your window rolled down to make escape easier.

What to do if your companion falls through a frozen lake

It is safest to just stay off of frozen lakes but if you find yourself with a person who becomes stranded on a frozen lake or falls through ice, use the following steps to seek help.

  • Keep calm and call 911
  • Do not put yourself at risk by running out onto the ice; continue speaking to the victim until help arrives.
  • Instruct the victim to keep still to maintain heat and energy
  • Look for a reach extender such as a pole, branch, skis, or rope. Then, after making sure that you are stable by lying down on the bank, attempt to pull the victim in to safety.
  • If the victim has fallen into the water and you are unable to pull them to safety with a reach extender, look for something to throw them that will help keep them afloat until rescuers arrive.

If the rescue is successful the victim will need to be kept warm and treated for shock in a hospital. Even if the person seems fine, they are at risk for suffering a fatal condition called “after drop” when cold blood that has pooled in the body’s outer regions begins to re-circulate.

What Should I do if I Fall through the Ice?

Although it’s easier said than done, try not to panic if you fall through the ice. Turn toward the direction you fell in and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface of the ice-if you have access to ice picks now is the time to pull them out. Pull yourself up and onto the solid ice by kicking your feet. If the ice breaks, stay in position and slide forward again. If you are able to get yourself to a point of lying on the ice, do not stand up. Roll away from the hole as this spreads your weight out until you are on solid ice.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!