WASHINGTON, D.C. — As he was waiting for his flight to return to Ohio, Shelby County John Lenhart issued some reminders about ice safety as the weather changes from cold to warm back to cold. Lenhart was in D.C. for a sheriff’s association meeting which included sheriffs from across the nation.
“When you’re outdoors having fun, there are some hazards you need to watch out for,” said Lenhart. “If you’re walking, sledding or ice skating, you need to beware of the ice around you.
“When is the ice safe?” he asked. “You might not have the same thickness of ice on the same body of water. The location of the ice will be different on a pond, lake or stream.”
If there is water flowing under the ice, he said, the thickness of the ice won’t be as thick as in other parts of the lake or pond.
“There’s also a difference if it’s fresh water or salt water,” he said. “In the mid-winter, the ice is safer than it is when spring begins.
“The size of the body of water also determines how it freezes,” Lenhart continued. “It takes longer for big areas to freeze.”
He used Lake Loramie as an example of how you will find different thickness of ice at different locations on the lake.
“Different areas will freeze quicker,” said Lenhart. “than the middle of the lake which has water flowing under it. The depth of the water also determines how quickly it freezes. Two to three feet of water will freeze quicker than 8 to 9 feet of water.”
And, he said, if there is snow on top of the ice, the walker or skater needs to be cautious when walking on the ice.
“The snow can warm the ice up,” said Lenhart. “It will make it thinner and weaker.”
Then, he said, you should also take into account the size of the person walking on the ice. If they are taking something with the onto the ice, such as a sled or other motorized riding vehicle, that can cause the ice to crack quicker than if it’s just a person walking on the ice.
“You need to know the body of water before you go out,” said Lenhart. “Use a buddy system. Always use a life jacket just like you would do if you’re boating.”
Going onto the ice, said Lenhart, is always a judgment call of the person.
“You need to ask people who know that body of water and how it freezes,” said Lenhart. “All ice can be dangerous and you can break through it at this time of the year.”
Lenhart said statistics show that 60 percent of 230,00 people injured on ice are boys.
“I’d like to recommend some equipment everyone should use,” said Lenhart. “Wear a helmet to protect your head. Make sure your skates fit you. Wear knee and elbow pads. Also wear gloves to keep your hands warm. Make sure your shoes have non-skidding soles.”
Lenhart said winter is also a dangerous time for senior citizens who venture out in the snow and ice.
“So many seniors fall because research has shown the shoes they are wearing gets them into trouble. If the shoes have a leather sole, there’s no traction. Seniors should stay inside and watch the outside from their window.”
He said a person should also know how to fall correctly.
“Bend you knees and fall forward instead of falling backwards,” said Lenhart.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.