While the cold weather has frozen much of the lake and river water in the area, Pierre Fire Chief Ian Paul says that there are many ongoing factors that can compromise ice and make it unstable.
“Ice stability can change by the hour,” said Chief Paul. “Ice doesn’t freeze uniformly, and it is impacted by temperatures, water currents, and the age of the ice.”
Each year the fire department responds to a number of ice-rescues. The most common scenario involves people who are trying to retrieve a pet and end up getting themselves in an unsafe situation. Generally, a pet will break loose, head out on the frozen surface, and break through the ice.
“If the ice cannot support your pet, it cannot support you,” said Chief Paul. “If you or your pet get in a dangerous situation, call 911. Do not attempt to rescue the pet yourself.”
The Pierre Fire Department has ice-rescue equipment and provides emergency ice-rescues at no cost.
According to universal safety standards:
• Four inches of ice is necessary for a person to safely walk on ice.
• Five inches of ice is necessary to operate a snowmobile or ATV on ice.
• Eight inches of ice is necessary to safely operate a small car on ice.
• Twelve inches of ice is necessary to safely operate a pick-up on the ice.
Additionally, parents are reminded to educate their children about proper ice safety.