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U.S. Coast Guard warns of ice dangers | News

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U.S. Coast Guard warns of ice dangers

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- A wintertime sport that's getting a later than usual start is ice fishing.

Just this week, anglers have started going out onto some small lakes in Muskegon County, but there's a warning from the U.S. Coast Guard about the condition of much of the ice on the county's biggest lake.

Muskegon Lake is large, and is usually the last lake in the county to ice over.

"Usually you are fishing in the middle of the lake right now, so it is a late start," said Chad Workman of North Muskegon. He found four inches of sloppy ice at a shallow marina. "The snow blankets the ice, then you get some warm ups and the temperature changes -- you get some slush."

This is Workman's ice report: "A lot of unsafe ice."

Under the snow is thin ice. A large crack was near a popular spot to fish in the Lakeside neighborhood.

"Our motto is no ice is safe ice," said U.S. Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate Deandre Burks.

As early ice sets in, Burks and other members of the U.S. Coast Guard train for emergencies on or under the ice.

"Just think twice, just think twice," is Burks' advice, adding anglers need to slow down and be prepared before going out. "Tell somebody where you are going, have a plan, and the best thing you can do is have a partner and go out in the buddy system."

He also suggests taking ropes, a long sturdy pole, use footwear with traction, and a personal flotation device. "Although it may be one of those extra articles of clothing that you are wearing, it is always a great idea to have with you."

If you fall in, try this self rescue technique right away: "All they are doing is using their feet in a kicking motion, just like you would do to swim, and using arms to propel themselves right up onto that ice shelf." Then, roll away from the hole to better distribute your weight.

If these men and women are called, they'll use more advance rescue techniques -- but Burks says they don't want to. "Our hopes are not to have to use it, but if we have to we are ready."

It may seem obvious, but the Coast Guard wants everyone to have a fully-charged cell phone with them, too. Last spring, a group of anglers called 911 after the ice they were on broke free from shore. They were all given rides to shore on a hovercraft.


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