KENTLAND — Saturday morning with the wind chill in the negatives, several members of the Kentland-Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department were out at Cast Park going through scenarios and procedures that could save lives during an ice rescue.
The ice rescue training, a yearly event for the department, was especially timely since the issue came up recently at a Kentland Town Council meeting.
“I was out running some errands and decided I would cruise by the park and check on some kids playing on the sledding hill,” stated Fire Chief Matt Wittenborn. “As I pulled into the park I noticed some young children playing on the ice at the pond. I immediately jumped out and asked them to get off the ice. Luckily the ice around the banks was thick enough to hold the weight of the two children.”
Wittenborn went on to remind the council that the pond has an aeration system in the middle to keep oxygen levels up for the fish to live, however, this keeps the pond from freezing all the way and makes it very dangerous to be on.
There is a sign at that pond that says caution thin ice, but Wittenborn and others feel there should be a sign that says stay off the ice to read as more of a warning.
“If a child falls through the ice they are in danger of drowning or going into hypothermia,” Wittenborn said. “The last thing we want to do is have to rescue or recover a child from the icy waters. The ice rescue training is very important to us and luckily we haven’t had any calls for that this year, but we did have several last year for people falling through the ice. We feel it is important for parents to teach their kids about the dangers of playing on the ice, especially at Cast Park.”
According to Wittenborn, the average person has a 50/50 chance of surviving a 50-yard swim in 50 degrees Fahrenheit water. A person that is in 32-40° water while wearing a personal floating device can expect to be either completely exhausted or unconscious in 15 minutes. Survival time is 30-90 minutes. Struggling in water can cut a person’s survival time by 50 percent due to increased heat loss.
Estimated Survival Time
Water 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Loss of use of hands and forearms — 3 hours
Loss of mental activity — 60 minutes — 4-5 hours
Hypothermia & death — 90 minutes — 6 hours
Water 48 degrees Fahrenheit
Loss of use of hands and forearms — 20 minutes
Loss of mental activity — 60 minutes
Hypothermia & death — 90 minutes
Water 38 degrees Fahrenheit
Loss of use of hands and forearms — 15 minutes
Loss of mental activity — 45 minutes
Hypothermia & death — 65 minutes