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SALT LAKE CITY — Search and rescue officials are warning the public about dangerous ice conditions after an 8-year-old boy chasing a dog fell through an icy pond Monday.
Their most important suggestion: do not go out onto the ice in the first place.
But rescuers know a lot of people enjoy ice fishing and skating, meaning they will likely go out on frozen ponds and lakes. To avoid falling through the ice, Utah County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Wally Perschon suggests always making sure the ice is at least four inches thick before walking on.
Perschon, division commander for Utah County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team, said when it comes to ice rescues, it’s all about timing. Rescuers in Utah County have been a lot faster since the sheriff's office obtained an airboat in 2014.
The county’s search and rescue team respond to a handful of ice rescue calls every year. The one thing most people who fall through ice have in common, Perschon said, is they all thought the ice was thicker.
“And just because it’s one thickness one week, it can be different in the same place another week,” he said.
Anyone planning to go out onto the ice should never go alone, Perschon said. They should also have a rope and, most important, have a plan.
“You go as if you’re going to fall through,” Perschon said. “You have a separation with you and the person that’s with you, so that if you fall through, someone can either go for help. If the ice doesn’t kill you, if you don’t drown, then you’re going to die of hypothermia.”
Perschon added it’s always best to go out onto the ice during daylight or at least in an area that’s well lit. At night, it’s harder to notice holes in the ice or weak areas.
But as rescuers emphasize — if there’s no need to go out onto the ice, don’t.