- Don’t go onto the ice alone.
- Don’t freak out if you fall through. This is easier said than done, but staying calm can help in any crisis.
- Don’t undress. You won’t be able to swim any better without your coat and pants. You’ll need to keep your winter clothing on for insulation. The air trapped inside your clothing can also help you stay afloat.
- Don’t try a new route back to shore. You’ll be safer by retracing your solid path across the ice. If you try a new route, you could fall through another thin spot on your way back to shore.
- Do consider wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) under your coat when you walk out onto the ice. The main exception to this would be wearing a PFD while driving across ice in a vehicle. The extra bulk could prevent you from crawling out through a window to escape a sinking vehicle.
- Do attempt to control your breathing. The shock of the cold water will often cause people to gasp, taking water into the lungs. The cold water can also lead to hyperventilation, which increases your chances of drowning.
- Do stay horizontal to get away from the thin ice. Once you’re out, stay horizontal to keep your weight dispersed on the ice. You could crawl on your belly, but a faster way to move is by rolling across the ice. Do this until you are on thick ice again and you feel certain that you can stand.
- Do try to warm up immediately. Once the victim is out of the freezing water, monitor them for shock and seek professional medical care to get their body temperature back to normal. If it’s not possible to reach definitive medical care, get the victim into dry clothing. Place warm water bottles throughout the clothing, especially under armpits, and in the groin and neck areas.