"The Coast Guard and our partner agencies stand ready to help those in distress this winter, but it is the general public who take to the cold water or ice that needs to be the most ready," Mike Baron, recreational boating safety specialist for the 9th District, said. "Your ability to help yourself in the time of an emergency is far more important to saving your life than anything we can do. There are several important steps that anyone can take to protect themselves and loved ones."
The 9th District has 39 stations, two air stations, and nine cutters designated, trained and equipped for ice rescue operations. Rescuers from the district rescued 53 people last winter from cold water and ice conditions.
Members of the Coast Guard are always equipped with proper clothing, equipment and plans during training and responses, ensuring their own safety. As a result, the Coast Guard reminds the public to join them in making a serious investment and commitment to ice safety, especially since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes. If people do choose to go on to the ice, they should remember the acronym I.C.E., “Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment."
Freezing air and water temperatures significantly decrease survival time for persons immersed in the water or trapped on the ice. Cold water is defined as any water temperature less than 70 degrees.
While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on cold water and ice around the Great Lakes is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures.