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Kent fire officials warn people to stay off frozen ponds

Kent Fire Department officials are warning people to stay off frozen ponds and lakes.

Because of the extended period of very cold weather in the Pacific Northwest, many standing bodies of water are icing over. This layer of ice is creating a potentially deadly trap for the unwary.

Ice-coated ponds and lakes are not safe to venture onto because the layer of ice we see is much too thin to support a person’s weight, fire officials said in a media release.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, people should never stand on ice less than two inches thick. In addition, water does not freeze into ice uniformly on a body of water. Ice that feels stable near a shoreline can get dangerously thin as you move towards the middle of the pond or lake.

How can you tell if ice is safe to stand on? You can’t. The one thing you can assume about ice locally is that it is not safe. This means for pets as well as people. Many pets can travel an unsafe distance away from the shore before plunging through the ice into the cold water due to their light body weight. This can lead to pet owners to venture out onto the ice in a rescue attempt.

Parents can be proactive by being aware of where standing bodies of water are located close to their home. Retention ponds, fish ponds, lakes, and outdoor swimming pools all pose a potential danger. Parents should talk to their kids about staying away from them. Always supervise your children whenever they are outdoors.

Know what to do. If you see someone who has fallen through ice, call 911 immediately. Once you have called, try to throw the person a rope or something to help them float if you can do so without going out onto the ice yourself. A person can lose consciousness in as little as 10-15 minutes. Hypothermia will set in far quicker. Once the person is out of the water, remove their wet clothing and dry the person off. Keep them warm until professional help arrives. Do not attempt to place them in a hot bath or shower.

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