NORTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) People who enjoy lacing up their skates and heading to their nearest pond may want to wait a few more weeks after a skater fell through thin ice in Norton on Saturday.
The skater was able to get out of the water on their own, but a neighbor saw their hockey stick and gloves had been left behind and called for help. Fire crews used a hovercraft, and some emergency responders entered the freezing waters before learning the skater was already out.
Norton Firefighter Paramedic Andrew Gomes says the skater made the mistake of hitting the ice alone. The paramedic spoke with FOX 25 on Saturday about skating on bodies of water during the winter.
Gomes says you should never go out on the ice since even if one portion of the ice seems safe, you can never tell if other areas are thinner or if there is running water underneath the ice.
The paramedic adds that anyone who chooses to hit the ice anyway should never skate alone and always have an adult check it first.
Gomes says it takes several days of freezing cold weather for the ice to be thick enough for skating. He warns skaters that the last few days of cold weather have not been enough to make ice in the Boston area thick enough. Lincoln Police also extended a similar warning to followers on their official Twitter account Friday.
"Thin Ice- Even though it's been very cold, we are still early in the winter season. Ponds & bodies of water are not safe to be on," read the tweet.
Gomes says while skating on any frozen body of water will never be completely safe, six inches of ice is considered the safest to skate on. To measure how thick the ice is, he recommends using a tool that can break the ice and is at least six inches long. If the end of the tool comes out of the ice without water on it then the ice is likely thick enough, however there could still be patches of thin ice in other areas.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation released these tips for staying safe on ice:
- Never go onto the ice alone.
- Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue-go for help.
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but it also can insulate the ice and keep it from freezing. Snow also can hide cracks as well as weak and open ice.
- Ice formed over flowing water (including springs under the surface) is generally weaker than ice over still water.
- Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick in one spot or an inch thick in another.
- If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw something to them (a rope, tree branch, even jumper cables from the car, etc.). If this doesn't work, go or phone for help before you also become a victim. Get medical
assistance for the victim immediately.
- If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once the ice is solid enough to hold you, and you can pull yourself out, remain lying on the ice (do not
stand; lying down spreads your weight across a wider area, lessening the weight on any one spot) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back the way you came, keeping your weight distributed, until you return to solid ice or ground.
- As the season progresses, plan accordingly and use caution, as the condition of older ice greatly varies and is subject to rapidly changing conditions.