'No Ice is Safe Ice.' U.S. Coast Guards reminding Michiganders of the hidden dangers of ice

Frozen Ice
Posted at 7:49 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 07:49:24-05

(WXYZ) — The Macomb County Sheriff's Department's Marine Unit rescued a fisherman who fell through the ice Monday morning.

Another man who witnessed it pulled him to safety.

Now the U.S. Coast Guard is warning folks that no ice is safe ice.

During the winter they train every day for hours for every scenario that could occur.

The U.S. Coast Guard Ice Rescue team consists of four people and they have multiple tools at their disposal to help get people out of the water if they break through the ice.

"Great Lakes ice is unpredictable and dangerous, and we can get the call at any time," U.S. Coast Guard Brennan Smith said. "We are always ready. 365 days a year 24 hours a day."

From rescue slings, to rescue boards, and their primary asset—their helicopters, one of the biggest rules to follow is to check your surroundings before heading out onto any frozen body of water.

"This ice is unpredictable. We have a rule of thumb out here, no ice is safe ice. We really want to harp on giving the people the proper training," Smith said.

There's also the 1-10-1 rule:

  • 1 minute to get your surroundings
  • 10 minutes of movement
  • 1 hour until you're unconscious

And with water hovering around 32 degrees and below, hypothermia can happen fast.

Most importantly you want to make a plan and be in groups when you go out.

In the St. Clair River, ice breaking efforts are underway to free up any ice dams that can cause minor to severe flooding.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard cutters break up the ice and free up the waterways to help it drain.

Last year levels were much higher by about 18 inches causing severe damage for those living along the water.

And while ice dams may be cool to look at and take pictures on and near they're dangerous.

"When it comes to walking on ice dams it has to come from the public's discretion," Smith said. "Like I said before no ice is safe ice."

If there’s ice on the lake but water around the shoreline, be extra cautious.

Be prepared:

  • Communicate your plan with family and friends
  • Bring a life jacket
  • Bring a cell phone & marine band radio
  • Wear reflective clothing