Every year, we hear of stories of dogs and other animals who have walked onto thin ice and fallen through. We’ve also heard of the many people who, in their well-intentioned attempts to rescue an animal, also end up falling through. The consequences of that, at its most severe, is death. This man was very lucky to have made it out alive after rescuing his dog.
The best rescue is always to avoid the accident when at all possible. In the case of dogs falling through the ice, there are some preventative steps you can take to not be put in the same situation as Collin and his dog are in this video.
- Measure the ice.
You can measure ice thickness by stabbing an ice chisel into the ice and then measuring that depth with a rod. Or, you can use an ice auger drill or a cordless wood drill. “Eyeing it up is not a reliable option, ever.
- Stay clear of ice that’s less than three inches thick.
If the ice is less than three inches, your best bet is to avoid it. Ice that’s about four inches can usually sustain activities like walking. But remember that ice conditions can change, especially depending on how recently the ice formed. You should also measure in more than one place, since ice thickness varies, particularly over moving bodies of water.
- Look for cracks and colors.
If you see worrisome signs like cracks, dark regions, or slushy areas, these are indications that the ice is weak and can’t support the weight.
- Know rescue protocol.
If anyone or anything falls into icy water, the first thing to do is to call 911. In the meantime, you can attempt to reach the person or animal by using a stick, rope, or ladder — anything that is long-reaching. Everyone should avoid standing up on the ice until they are far away, and those exposed to ice water should immediately receive hypothermia treatment.
- Keep an eye on your pup!
Keep a close eye on your dog at all times, or better yet, put them on a leash. If you can’t rely on your dog to stick close and come when called, the best option is to keep it on a leash. And if your dog does fall in, again, call 911.
- Avoid poorly lit areas.
In limited lighting, it’s more difficult to detect the ice’s safety conditions. If the lighting isn’t great, your best bet is to hit the ice during the day.