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Staying Off Thin Ice: Some Expert Advice

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Pennsylvania State Police are asking the public to be on alert after a 12-year-old girl from Honesdale was recently hospitalized after falling through ice.

On Friday, Fox 40 met with the Broome County Sheriff's Marine Unit for ice safety tips while they trained on ice rescue air boats at Dorchester Park in Whitney Point.

“I don’t recommend kids going on any ice by themselves,” said Broome County Sergeant Dennis Rowlands.

Rowlands said being with someone who is experienced with ice is vital.

“Be prepared before you get to the ice. Go with a buddy, have some tools in case you do go through,” said Rowlands.

Those with more than a decade of ice fishing experience agree.

“Carry ice safety picks in case you did fall through,” said Binghamton Resident Brandon Myers. "Use a spud bar to walk in front of you and watch for any soft spots that you can visually see."

At 19, Myers has been an ice fisherman for 15 years. He said using caution, he has never had any issues on the ice.

When disaster does strike, for those who may have to brave the icy waters for a rescue mission, preparation is key.

“It takes some planning, it’s going to take a lot longer for us to get to you,” said Broome County Deputy Sheriff Leon Brown.

Brown said his first air boat training helped him see the challenges of ice rescue first hand.

“On the ice, it’s a lot wider turns,” said Brown, “You can’t exactly stop when you want to. It’s harder to turn and it’s harder to get to where you want to go."

It's crucial to know the condition of the ice before choosing to walk, or ride.

“You’re looking at a minimum of four inches for a human being to walk on, four inches,” said Rowlands. “If you have an ATV, or snowmobile, now we’re looking at six inches; cars, SUVs, 12 inches.”

Thickness can be determined by digging a hole and using a measuring device. Color is another way to judge strength.

"The strongest ice is clear or blue ice," said Rowlands, "Any dark ice, black ice, or ice with a lot of bubbles in it is always weaker.”

Rowlands adds to take note of warning signs and always be aware of your surroundings.