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Ice: The Both Fun and Dangerous Part of New England Winters

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan has issued safety tips for residents to follow when it comes to the icy parts of winter in New England.


It's New England. It's December. These things together mean icy conditions will almost inevitably be part of our lives in the very near future.

And when we say, "icy conditions," we aren't just talking about the roads. In this case, we're talking about frozen ponds and other bodies of water that serve as tempting skating rinks or ice fishing spots this time of year. Tempting, yet potentially dangerous.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan has released some ice and cold water safety tips that are important to keep in mind as you and your family enjoy all the outdoor fun a New England winter can offer.

A few key tips from Coan:

- Know the HELP position. If you fall into cold water, assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP), which involves pulling your knees into your chest, keeping your arms against your sides and clasping your hands, and covering your head if at all possible.

- Wear a personal flotation device when boating. This is a must all year long, but don't forget to do it in the winter when you already have on bulky clothing.

- Think natural. When wet, wool clothing is a better insulator against hypothermia than man-made fibers. And always cover your head!

- How thick is thick enough? Ice forming on moving bodies of water, like streams and rivers, is NEVER safe. The ice on ponds and lakes may not be forming over moving water, but it's impossible to declare ice as "safe" given that minor weather changes can drastically impact the ice's integrity. The safest place around to ice skate is next door in Cranston. 

- How to help. If someone does fall into cold water, don't venture onto the ice to help them. Call 911 immediately and throw the person a buoyant object to grasp. If possible, reach a stick or pole out to the person or row a boat to them.

Check out the attached PDF for tips and be sure to educate your kids before sending them out to play this winter.

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