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Lake Country firefighters warm up ice rescue skills

Wood Lake practice sees a dozen members go for a chilly dip
The Lake Country Fire Department spent the day practicing ice rescue skills on Wood Lake last Saturday. (Glen Gregory photo)

Lake Country firefighters braved the cold waters of Wood Lake last weekend to shore up their rescue skills.

A dozen members took to the lake Saturday in search of a place to practice, when they inadvertently fell in.

“As they were going out there it started to crack and ended up giving out underneath them,” deputy fire chief Brent Penner said.

“I don’t think they were expecting to go into the water.”

Thankfully, they were dressed for the occasion, suited up and prepared to go in anyway.

The firefighters spent all day warming up their rescue skills and will be back out on the lake this Saturday for more training.

There aren’t many ice rescue emergencies, which is why the department takes the time to refresh members with training.

But a number of years ago there were some tragedies that took place on Wood Lake when ice fishing was open.

Ice fishing is now closed on the lake and these incidents are the reason the fire department now trains its members in the event of an emergency.

But they hope not to have to use them and offer some safety tips before venturing out on any frozen surface.

Ice should be four inches frozen solid.

“If you can see right through and it’s clear ice, that’s good ice,” Penner said.

Cloudy or murky ice is indicative of changes in the ice, which reduce how solid it is.

“When you start seeing water pooling on the surface of the lake, things are changing,” he said.

Any cracking noises are a warning sign that you shouldn’t be on the ice, and to try and distribute your weight evenly while getting back to shore.

Ultimately, it’s hard to know just how safe the ice is.

“You really don’t know what’s underneath it,” Penner said.

If you do fall through:

• Do not panic. Your clothing will trap air and keep you buoyant.

• Turn towards the direction you came from and place your hands and arms flat on the unbroken surface.

• Kick your feet and try to push yourself up on top of the unbroken ice on your stomach, like a seal.

• Once you are lying on the ice, don’t stand up. Roll away from the break until you are on solid ice.

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The Lake Country Fire Department spent last Saturday practicing ice rescue skills on a frozen Wood Lake. See more on A3. (Glen Gregory photo)

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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