LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Even though there was a week of below-freezing temperatures, Lexington firefighters said the ice on ponds is not thick enough for pond hockey, ice fishing or even walking.
Lexington Fire Department Capt Chris Warren said it is only a matter of minutes in water that cold before it is a very scary situation.
"They're more or less going to be unconscious, even though they may be awake and may be able to follow commands, their muscles and their fine motor skills just aren't going to work. It's just too cold of water," said Warren.
From a rescue perspective, if someone sees a person in the water, calls 911 and rescue crews make it in time, Warren said it is already an uphill battle.
Lexington firefighters are begging Lexingtonians to stay off ponds because the ice is NOT thick enough for safe pond hockey, fishing or walking.— Claire Kopsky (@ClaireMKopsky) February 19, 2021
We joined @LexKYFire for their ice
rescue training this morning. We’re out here because trust me, you don’t want to be.@LEX18News pic.twitter.com/I7bDXavZQE
"If they've been in there any time at all, they're not going to be able to help you at all. What we fear is that people giving up," he said. "They have fought for so long until that point of which we get to them and then they give up...and they slip off the ice shelf and back into the water. So, we encourage them to keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting until we can get our hands on them and get them and get them actually out of the water."
Warren said their rescue techniques involve trying to reach the victim with a long pole or ladder. The second resort is throwing them a rope to help pull them out but he said that might not be helpful.
"What you have to realize as well is that's a small rope, and their hands are frozen and them trying to hold on to a rope with cold hands and pull themselves out the ice is probably not going to happen," Warren said.
Before rescue teams arrive, Warren said victims should pull themselves out of the water as quickly as possible, lie down to distribute their weight and log roll to shore.
On Friday, Lexington's Station 9 spent the morning training for ice rescues at Jacobson Park as they have seeing Lexingtonians attempting ice activities and it is rare there is even a thin layer of ice they can train on.
"Right now we've got about two to three inches of solid ice on top. Ice can form in different ways it can have air in it, it can have a lot of water still trapped inside of it. So, you don't know how safe it actually is. Once it gets to about four inches, it gets obviously a little safer. But as that ice increases up to six, eight, 10 inches, then that's when you see people that are out ice fishing are able to get on the ice," he said. "Now, we're in Kentucky. We aren't going to have ice that thick. It's all going to be that two to four inches. That is in that danger zone. You think you can walk out on it. And then once you get out on it you bust through. And that's what we don't want."