Coast Guard shares safety tips for people who plan to go out onto the ice

Following these tips can save your life

Michiganders are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by water, but frigid cold temperatures across Metro Detroit will soon turn water into ice. Many people love this time of year, especially those enthused with ice fishing and winter sports, but the ice can become very dangerous as the flowing liquid becomes a solid.

DETROIT – Michiganders are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by water, but frigid cold temperatures across Metro Detroit will soon turn water into ice.

Many people love this time of year, especially those enthused with ice fishing and winter sports, but the ice can become very dangerous as the flowing liquid becomes a solid.

“All it takes is one bad decision,” said United States Coast Guard and Public Affairs Officer Jeremiah Schiessel. “You know, to be complacent, thinking that ‘Oh, I’ve done this some 100 times. I’ve been here 30 years. I know what I’m doing.’”

Schiessel said that he’s had to save even the most experienced.

“There is no such thing as, you know, safe ice, you know, we highly discourage people from going out on the ice, but we know people still do it,” Schiessel said.

Schiessel shared some safety tips to protect people who do go out onto the ice.

“So you have about one minute to control your breathing, about 10 minutes of functional time, and this is if you’re not wearing any survival gear, you know, dry suit,” Schiessel said. “So 10 minutes of being able to use your extremities, your fingers, and then one hour of survival.”

Schiessel recommends people ensure the ice is a certain level of thickness before they go out on it.

“Thickness is a must, and really the way you’re going to tell that is by drilling into the ice and verifying its thickness,” Schiessell said. “To walk on usually, it’s about four to five inches. Then you know to drive on, we’re talking at least 12 inches.”

And the most important is to communicate with others about heading out on the ice and dress appropriately.

“Our message to the public is to prepare for the worst,” Schiessel said. “Prepare as if you are going to be going into the freezing water. That basically involves wearing a dry suit and bright-colored clothing. Telling somebody onshore where you are going and when you’re planning to return. Stick to that plan.”

It’s also a great idea to bring a handheld radio with you too so if something happens, you can call for help immediately.

The Coast Guard also shared a word of warning: “Ice fishers should not leave their shanties or tents behind when they go home.”

If officers see something floating in the water, they must treat the situation as a missing person case.


About the Authors:

You can watch Kim on the morning newscast weekdays from 4:30 to 7 a.m., and frequently doing reports on the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.