Salina, KS

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Officials Warn Of Ice Dangers

KSAL StaffFebruary 13, 2014

A recent incident at Lakewood Park in Salina highlight the danger of icy lakes and ponds. On January 19th a fisherman fell through ice. Police and firefighters responded, and the fisherman safely made it back to shore.

Officials say to use caution in and around rivers, lakes, and ponds that appear to be frozen.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers says that if your plans bring you near or on the water, please pay attention to deteriorating ice conditions.

When is Ice Safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors—plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and current, the distribution of the load on the ice and local climatic conditions. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS 100 PERCENT SAFE ICE.

This time of year cold water is an additional risk to those on or near the water. Cold water, less than 70 degrees, can lower your body temperature and cause hypothermia. The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air. If your body temperature drops too low, you may pass out and then drown. Wearing warm clothing and headgear, rain gear to stay dry, and a life jacket can help retain body heat to prevent hypothermia.

USACE urges lake users to expect the unexpected and consider these four additional ice related facts this winter season.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be 1-foot thick in one location but only an inch or two just a few feet away.

Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to undermining effects of the faster current.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing point. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish and waterfowl can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake causing the ice to weaken.

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