Coast Guard issues warning after ‘massive ice rescues’ in Lake Michigan – NBC Chicago

After two major ice rescues in Lake Michigan on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard is warning winter enthusiasts of life-threatening conditions on frozen lakes due to unstable ice conditions.

A total of 25 people were rescued Sunday from two separate ice floes, according to Coast Guard officials.

Members of the Sturgeon Bay station responded to a call from 11 people stranded on an ice floe near Sherwood Point, Wisconsin, leading to the rescue of five adults and six children back ashore.

After the rescue in Wisconsin, the Coast Guard responded to reports of people stranded on ice floes and in the water near Sebewaing, Michigan, where crews from Station Saginaw River, Air Station Detroit, and Air Station Traverse City collaborated in a rescue.

Officials said 14 people were taken safely ashore in varying conditions, including two patients receiving treatment for hypothermia.

“The two major ice rescue cases highlight the unpredictability of ice on the Great Lakes, especially with fluctuating temperatures. We appreciate the quick response from all agencies involved and everyone’s safe recovery,” said Captain Timothy Holt.

Holt is the chief of incident management for the Coast Guard’s Ninth District.

Coast Guard officials offered the following advice in response to the rescues:

  1. Take precautions, not risks. The risk of death from accidental immersion during cold seasons is higher than during hot seasons. The water is colder and the survival time is greatly reduced.
  2. Dress for the water temperature. Cold water lowers body heat much faster than cold air. Even if you don’t plan to enter the water, the possibility of this happening is very real.
  3. Never leave without a VHF-FM radio or personal locator beacon and always be sure to tell someone where you are going, when you plan to return and let them know of any changes in the plan. Every minute counts in a cold water environment, and preparation can mean the difference between life and death.

The Coast Guard points out that this year’s overall milder winter has led to historically low ice cover, with officials advising to check ice conditions before traveling on or near water.

NBC Chicago

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