What you need to know before venturing out on ice this winter

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They are a beautiful and often very dangerous part of winter - iced over lakes, ponds and rivers. There are most certainly risks of walking on partially frozen ice. (WPVI)

They are a beautiful and often very dangerous part of winter - iced over lakes, ponds and rivers. There are most certainly risks of walking on partially frozen ice.

Allentown Fire Captain John Christopher is a member of the department's underwater rescue team.

He says the risk you take walking on a frozen body of water is simply not worth it.

Captain Christopher says, "There is no way of telling how thick it is. It's a totally uncontrolled situation."

But there are ways of making sure you are as safe as can be expected, if you simply cannot escape the allure of an outdoor pick-up ice hockey game.

First off, have an emergency plan.

Make sure people know what you're doing and appoint at least one person the designated land-lover, so they can call 911 if someone falls through.

Secondly, favor ice that's monitored by local authorities.

There are some lakes and ponds that are checked for ice density during the winter. And officials will actually notify the community about how safe or unsafe the conditions are.

Check with your municipality about that one.

And understand that ice density is not consistent on a frozen lake or pond.

Just because the ice is thick where you're standing does not mean the ice is thick just a few feet away.

Now, if you ever find yourself having fallen through and ice-covered body of water, as you swim back toward the surface, Captain Christopher says go against your instincts and swim toward the darkness.

He says, "Water actually reflects light, whereas ice would absorb it. So if you're underneath it, people what they tend to do is look up and swim towards the light, and that's the ice. The actual hole is going to look black."

And then, assuming you get to the surface, get horizontal and roll or crawl away from the hole.

The idea is to disperse your body weight across the fragile ice.

Related Topics:
ice rescuecoldpa. newsAllentown
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