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Stay Off the Ice!

Don't be tempted to skate, fish or walk on frozen ponds or coves. Ice in the Baltimore region is too unstable and unsafe.

BCoFD fire and rescue experts agree: The only safe place to skate is at an ice rink.Ice rescue training Even relatively thick ice on natural bodies of water is often unstable. Ice on Maryland waterways rarely freezes evenly and solidly for a variety of reasons, including temperature fluctuations beneath the surface and the presence of contaminants in the water, which can prevent freezing.

Without special equipment, human beings who fall into water with sub-freezing temperatures will survive only about 15 minutes.

Never walk on the ice, even to rescue a pet or another person. Call 911 immediately for help.

Safety Tips

Wear a life jacket, if you must be on a boat on the water.

If you are with someone—or with a pet—who falls through the ice, do not go on the ice to help! Instead:

  • Call 911 as soon as possible.
  • Mark the spot with a hat or a piece of clothing, so that if the victim becomes submerged, rescuers have a point of reference. Time is of the essence with this sort of rescue.
  • Then reach, throw and row. If the victim is near enough to shore to reach a ladder, tree branch or pole, extend one of these toward them as quickly as possible and pull them to safety. Throw them a rope or a flotation device, if possible. Row toward them if the water is clear and you have access to a boat. Again, do not leave the shore and venture into the water or onto the ice unless you have special water rescue training.
  • If the victim can crawl out of the water and onto the ice, have them roll away from the crack and crawl on their belly to shore. Staying low distributes the body's weight on the ice and helps reduce the risk of the ice cracking.
Revised February 24, 2020         


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