If You Fall Through Ice
Avery Keller - Staff Writer
One of the new trends arising in Utah County is to drive up American Fork Canyon and slide on the frozen tibble fork. It seems like a really fun idea to do with a group of friends, but you should know what to do if something wrong happens. Having personal experience of going to tibble, there are some major cracks in the ice and even some little holes, so it’s nice to be aware of what to do if you fall through.
Say you and your friends sliding around and all the sudden *crack* your friend falls in between the cracks. The good thing is you can still see her and she isn’t underneath the ice. The water is 35°F and their breath is starting to shorten. The absolute first thing to do is see if anyone is around you and if so, order them to call 911. If you are by yourself, call, put the operator on speaker and talk to them while you try to get the victim out. Do not go by the hole, because the ice around the hole probably will break off and you will fall in too. Going towards the hole should be your last resort, and if it comes to that, crawl instead of walk, to minimize your weight. If your friend just fell in, they will go into something known as “cold shock” for 1-3 minutes. While they are going through this, they’ll start to hyperventilate and you need to keep talking to them and at all costs, keep their head up. If they just fell in, they most likely will not need additional assistance, but you need to direct them on what they need to do. You first need to tell them to go to the last place they were standing before the ice broke, because you know it could hold their weight. They should use their elbows to grip onto the ice.
Now they need to pull themselves out of the water. If they have any sharp objects like keys, dig them into the ice as a hold. They should kick their legs until they’re horizontal and slid out. The easiest way to get them out, is by finding some long enough, whether is be a scarf, stick, rope, and have them grab on. You could also throw a sled to them, or make a human chain.
Once they’re out of the water, check if they are breathing and perform CPR if necessary. Next you need to warm them up. Give them a blanket and take off any wet clothes. By now the ambulance should be there, and give your friend over to them.
Now if you fall through, once you realize that you’re going to hit freezing water, mentally prepare yourself. It’s always worse than what you expected. Your breath will quickly shorten and you just need to control that. You have to stay calm. If you start panicking, the chance of survival decreases. Like previously stated, start kicking to make yourself horizontal and slid out of the water.
So now you know what to do if you happen to fall through. The odds of this actually happening are extremely low, but there is still a chance of this happening. As long as you have common sense and hear cracks beneath you, go to a thicker area. Don’t jump on thin ice. If you are going to jump on thin ice, do it by the shore where you could drop a foot or two.