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Frozen Ponds: Cracked ice could mean big trouble

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INDIANAPOLIS – Fire officials have noticed ponds appearing to look frozen when they are not, and are warning people to stay away.

On Wednesday, the Wayne Township Fire Department conducted a demonstration. One of their trained employees was rescued from a pond by another trained employee. Public Information Officer Captain Michael Pruitt said their message is clear: people should not go near a pond that looks frozen.

“You never know what you are going to get into, so we just want people to stay off of it,” Pruitt said.

If someone falls into icy water, complications could escalate quickly like hypothermia.

“There (are) several stages of hypothermia, starting with shivering. (It’s your) body’s mechanism to try to generate heat. From there, you basically….you might have lack of coordination, slurred speech and then some impaired judgement. (You) start making (a) spiral downward,” said Shane Hardwick, the EMS Operations Officer for Wayne Township.

Hardwick said the temperature of the water can pull the heat away from your body…fast.

“Then your vital signs start to drop and it can be very, very fatal very quick,” Hardwick said.

Pruitt said he has noticed ponds turning into ice earlier than usual. He said ponds generally begin to freeze closer to January and because it’s Thanksgiving weekend, they wanted to stress the importance of staying away from them. They do not want people making a mistake by chasing after a ball or pet.

They also said if you see someone standing on a frozen pond, you should tell them to get off. Pruitt said people should not attempt to rescue someone or something themselves. Instead, they should call 911; agencies are prepared and have equipment to safely rescue anyone or anything.

“Where we get in trouble is our retention ponds in neighborhoods in communities where kids wander onto these ponds not realizing it’s thin and they fall through,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt noted there is recreational ice fishing and skating this time of year, but he said there are designated areas for those activities. As far as ice fishing, he said people should check with the Department of Natural Resources.