What to Do if You Fall Through the Ice

What to Do if You Fall Through the Ice: a Survival Guide

Going on winter fishing, you should remember that there is always a risk of falling through the ice. Safe thickness of the ice cover in stable frosty weather is 4-5 cm for one person, provided that the air temperature does not rise above 5 degrees. If it is closer to spring or late fall, a safe ice layer is at least 10 cm to support the weight of one person. The strongest ice can be recognized by its bluish or greenish hue, with no air bubbles, and its formation occurred in frosty, windless, stable weather. Other outward signs will indicate the unreliability of the ice layer, which can fail under the weight of a person. To help yourself if no one is around, or to save another person, you need to know what to do if you fall through the ice.


In order not to get under water, you should adhere to the following rules of staying on the ice:

  • Never step on areas of white, yellowish color. Most often people fall through on frosted white ice, which is more dangerous than clear ice. The most dangerous ice to step on is the ice in the fall and spring, which is made up of snow frozen during a snowstorm.
  • If cracks form underfoot, you cannot continue to follow the same direction, especially if circular cracks form.
  • You should avoid walking on the ice near steep banks, reeds, under drifts, in places with fallen trees and rocks frozen in the ice, and other objects, as well as in places where the water is turbulent. In addition, you should avoid areas where industrial water drains into a water body.
  • In order not to get into an ice-hole under the snow, in cold weather it can be recognized by the characteristic steaming. If you can see a dark spot on the snow cover, it means that the ice layer is thinnest in this place.
  • If there is a human trail on the ice or visible traces of car tires, it is best to move on them, because the ice is thicker on the trails, it is compacted with snow under the weight of passing people or cars.
  • Moving on the icy surface of the reservoir, you should always have some sharp object at the ready, and if there is a backpack, you must remove one strap to quickly throw it off in case of emergency.

What to do if you fall through the ice: the rules

If you happen to fall through the ice, you need to follow the recommendations:

  • First of all, it is necessary to maintain self-control, not to panic and not to take rash actions.
  • As soon as possible get rid of bags, heavy things in pockets. It is necessary to take advantage of the moment, while clothes are dry – it will allow for some time to maintain buoyancy and stay in the water.
  • Lie on your stomach and spread your arms wide apart. The position should be as horizontal as possible.
  • Cautiously begin to crawl out of the failed ice zone, moving in the direction from which they came.
  • It is necessary to try to get out on a site with solid ice, sticking a penknife or other sharp object into it.
  • Its a good idea to have two objects with you that can be used as supports, such as two large nails. Having hooked on them as far as possible behind the ice-hole, you should begin to work often with your feet, and, moving alternately hands with supports, try to pull yourself up on a stable icy surface. You should not work too actively with your feet, because if you fail (the ice breaks off, wet clothes pull you down, etc.) precious strength will be lost.
  • When you manage to crawl on a stable ice surface, you should crawl without getting on your feet for another ten meters, and then return to the shore on your footsteps with frequent steps.

Assisting someone who has fallen through the ice

What should you do if you fall through the ice and need help? Provided you have warm, dry clothes, a person can stay in the water for about 50 minutes, but the first signs of frostbite of the hands begin to show after 20-30 minutes. Therefore, help for a person who has fallen through the ice should be provided as quickly as possible.

If the first aid team consists of three people, its actions should be as follows:

  • The person walking first in the group should be tied with a rope, one end of which should have a loop to put a loop around the victims armpit, the other end should be given to the person following him.
  • About 25 meters from the edge of the ice hole, the first person should lie down on the snow and crawl toward the victim. When the distance is optimal, two or three notches are made on the ice for hand and foot support, and a rope is thrown to help the person who has fallen through the ice.
  • The second and third rescuers start pulling the rope along with the first and the victim. The second and third rescuers begin pulling the rope with the first and victim


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