Cold Weather / Ice Pond Safety
By Deputy Chief D. Edward Ferguson, Jr.
January 3, 2018

Goochland County Department of Fire-Rescue & Emergency Services urges everyone (and their pets) to stay off of frozen ponds and lakes. The ice isn’t thick enough to support the weight of a person. Rarely does it get cold enough for a long enough period of time in this area for the ice to become strong enough to support the weight of a person. Parents, please remind your children to stay off the frozen water! Dog owners must be careful around frozen water and not throw sticks or balls onto the ice. Should a dog go onto the ice and get into difficulty, don't attempt to carry out a rescue. If a pet or person gets in trouble on the ice on a frozen pond or lake, call 911 immediately!

Safety advice - what do if you see someone fall through the ice:
Never venture onto frozen ponds and lakes, no matter how safe it looks! If you see someone fall through the ice:

• Shout for help and send someone to DIAL 911
• Stay off the ice
• Shout to the victim to keep still
• Try and reach them from the bank using a rope, pole, a tree branch, clothing tied together or anything else that extends your reach
• When reaching for the bank, lie down to avoid being pulled onto the ice
• If you cannot reach them, slide something that floats like a rescue buoy across the ice for them to hold on to stay afloat
• If the victim is out of reach, wait for the 911 units, while calming and reassuring them

After the victim has been rescued from the ice:
• Make sure the 911 is on its way
• Lay them flat, check their breathing and pulse and begin resuscitation if necessary
• Prevent them from getting colder by putting them in a sleeping bag or covering them including their head, with blankets or spare clothing
• Get them under shelter out of the cold
• Until the victim is in a warm place do not undress them
• Do not rub their skin, apply hot water or give an alcoholic drink
• Keep them wrapped up so that they warm up gradually

If you fall through the ice:
• Keep calm and call for help
• If no help is available spread your arms across the surface of the ice
• If the ice is strong enough kick your legs and slide onto the ice
• Lie flat and pull yourself to the bank
• If the ice is very thin, break it in front of you and make your way to the shore
• If you cannot climb out, wait for help keeping as still as possible
• Press your arms by your side and keep your legs together
• Once you are safe, call 911 and go to the Emergency Department to be evaluated