To those who have yet to experience the cold, slush, and snow, winter is nothing short of magical and charming. However, the ones who live in places that experience the extremities of the season tend to think otherwise. While snow and cold winds look and sound appealing in films, television shows, and books, there will always be inconveniences and risks that should be acknowledged and prevented.
For instance, engaging in winter sports isn’t simply strapping on a pair of skis and sliding downhill. Nor is it as casual as hopping on a snowboard and moving swiftly on snow-covered surfaces. Ice skating, too, isn’t as simple as it looks. One risk of playing in snow or even simply traipsing through areas with patches of ice on the ground is falling through the ice and into shockingly cold water.
An outdoorsman from Wisconsin understands the dangers so well that he decided to create a video demonstrating the proper way of self-rescue should you fall through the ice. In the video, Kenton Whitman purposely allows himself to fall through the ice (discouraging viewers from mirroring his actions, all of which were done for safety demonstration only) and narrates what takes place the minute it happens.
He warns against a cold-shock response, the body’s initial response to being submerged in ice-cold water.
The cold-shock response can be mitigated if you relax.
Whitman explains how trying to relax can help address this. However, relaxing is not generally the first reflex when in a situation as alarming as falling through ice. Considering how quickly and easily panic and fear can cloud one’s judgment, it takes a few moments before a person can actually manage to slowly breathe in and out and relax.
Spread your arms out and get fully immersed.
After you’ve survived the cold-shock response, Whitman demonstrates how to get fully immersed by slowly spreading your arms out.
Don’t try to get out of the water by immediately hoisting yourself up.
Whitman doesn’t advise one to immediately pull one’s self out by planting both hands on the surrounding surface and climbing out.
Kick steadily until you can raise both legs behind you.
The outdoorsman suggests kicking steadily until you can raise your feet behind you, and then kicking more vigorously until you have better control and can pull the lower half of your body slowly to the surface. This allows you better control of your body despite the temperature and prevents other risks like sinking deeper and losing your grip on the surface, which may or may not be as solid.
Kick until you’re on flat ice…
… and ease forward slowly.
Only attempt to stand when you feel that you are on stronger ice.
Whitman tests the surface by using his arm to pound on it. Once he confirms that he is indeed on stronger ice, he continues to move forward then proceeds to get back on his feet.
Each step must be carried out with utmost caution. Safety always comes first, and it’s fortunate there are people like Whitman who readily share self-rescue techniques for everyone’s reference. You never know when these techniques will come in handy. Better safe than sorry, after all! Watch the video to learn the best practices from an expert outdoorsman.
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