It’s a good rule of thumb that ice should be at least 4” thick to walk on and over 12” thick to drive on. God forbid if you find yourself in a situation where you are falling through ice, here are 5 things that you can do to increase your chances of survival:
When entering the water, fight to urge to breath in the water. Your body will have a natural reaction to gasp when it hits the icey-cold water but do your best to avoid this. The immediate shock should wear off in 1-2 minutes. You need to act fast though, because staying in the water for longer than 15 minutes is deadly.
Orient yourself and identify the spot where you fell through. This will require you to remain calm in this otherwise chaotic situation.
Once you’ve identified the hole that you fell through, get your body horizontal and begin to kick your legs while pulling yourself up and out with your elbows. Do not attempt to go straight up as you will most likely chip away at the rim of the ice hole. Instead, focusing on moving upwards AND outwards simultaneously.
Once your body is more than half-way out of the water, lie totally flat on the ice and begin to roll away from the hole that you fell into.
If you are unable to escape this way, stop kicking to conserve body heat and energy. Lie both arms flat on the ice in hopes that they will freeze to the ice and keep your body from falling back further into the hole. If you go unconscious, this will give rescuers a better chance to locate your body.
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