Warm temperatures make ice on county lakes too risky for outdoor activities

OAKLAND COUNTY, Michigan – March 11, 2022 – If frozen lake fishing or snowmobiling is your passion, it’s time to put that passion on ice for the season. It’s just too dangerous.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has warned outdoor enthusiasts that hot daytime temperatures have made the county’s lakes, rivers and ponds – even if covered in ice – unsafe for any activity.

“No ice is 100% safe and as spring approaches and temperatures become more moderate, any type of outdoor activity on the ice exponentially increases the risk of a tragic outcome,” said said Bouchard. “Our search and rescue divers trained this week on a frozen lake, and the ice conditions were poor at best. The ice was six inches thick in one area and less than an inch in another. It was a mess. Venturing onto unstable and deteriorating ice now puts everyone’s life at risk – yours and the rescuers’ lives.

In mid-February, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit responded to a call in Commerce Township for a snowmobile that had partially broken through ice on a lake. The driver escaped unharmed and the snowmobile was removed by a tow truck.

Bouchard said the ice conditions on each lake change every day – even in the same place. Signs of changing ice conditions include moving water near a stream, river, spring or invisible inlet, areas of melting snow, depressions in the snow, heavy snow, “milky” white or black-colored ice, and “frazzle” ice weakened by freeze-thaw cycles. Frazzle ice has tiny pockets of air and often looks like frozen mud. These are all signs of thin ice or dangerous ice.

If someone falls through the ice, don’t run for the hole. Call 911. Then use a pole, branch, rope, or other convenient object that can be extended to the victim from a safe position. You cannot help if you become a victim.

• If you fall through the ice, try not to panic. It will only hinder your self-rescue actions. Call for help and kick while putting your hands and then your arms on safer ice. Carry an ice punch or a screwdriver, which will help you in your self-rescue. Keep “swimming” on the ice far enough to crawl or “roll” to safer ice.
• Pets straying onto unsafe ice are a major cause of many near-drownings and deaths. If you find that your pet has ventured onto the ice, resist the urge to go after him. Stay at a safe place on the shore and persuade them to return to safety.

Wildlife venturing onto dangerous ice is a natural phenomenon. Wild animals such as deer are good swimmers prepared for the cold and find their own way out of the ice. More often than not, wild animals discovered in water are injured and succumb to injuries from predators or natural forces.


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