How To Survive If You Fall Through Thin Ice

The best advice of course is don't be out on thin ice on your own in the first place. Vitalliy/Shutterstock 

How to get yourself up and out of the water

The longer you're in the water, the higher the chance of getting hypothermia and drowning. If you try to claw your way out, pulling the weight of your body – waterlogged clothing and all – onto ice that was already thin enough to let you fall through in the first place, you may end up going through it again. In this situation, it’s better to use the strength of your legs, rather than relying on your arm muscles.

First, bring your legs up and extend them behind you (use your butt to lift your lower body) so you are floating on your stomach parallel with the water’s surface. If you have on skis or snowshoes, or even boots, that prevent you from doing this, kick them off. It may save your life.

Kick your legs softly at first to gently launch yourself forward onto the ice, then kick hard to propel yourself horizontally out of the water and onto the ice on your stomach.

Don’t stand up! The overwhelming relief of being out of the water may ruin your hard-won calm and make you want to jump up, but thin ice could mean you fall through again. Instead, keep your weight distributed on a wider surface area by staying flat. Pull yourself to where you last were when the ice was thick enough to take your weight, slowly get onto all fours, or if it’s safe to, stand, and retrace your steps to shore (This is important, don’t fall at the last hurdle: stick with the route you know, rather than finding new possible areas of thin ice).

Finally, thank your lucky stars you read this article and so knew how to rescue yourself, and go get dry and warm ASAP.


[H/T: ReWild University]

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