Search and Rescue Advises Caution When Walking Lakes

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

Temperatures around Kodiak dropped for a while, but have recently risen again, and lakes may not be as hockey-ready as they once were. That means people need to exercise caution before they venture onto seemingly frozen bodies of water.

Dicky Saltonstall is a member of Kodiak Island Search and Rescue and says there are pretty strong sheets of ice on the lakes. He says the recent snow and rain could contribute to that if the slush on the surface freezes and bonds with the ice beneath it.

“Again, though, typically here in Kodiak, the lakes are really shallow, and there’s a lot of gas bubbles that come up underneath the ice, and those create open holes. Even in many cases like on Buskin Lake there are open holes created by the gas that is bubbling up ‘cause it keeps the water moving, and maybe it’s a little bit warmer too, so it just doesn’t freeze as easily.”

Saltonstall says springs of water may also weaken the ice, and just because the lake is thick in one area, that doesn’t ensure that it’s secure throughout.

He says if a person has the urge to go out on a lake, they need to trust their instincts. If it seems unsafe, don’t risk it.

And he says to always bring ice picks, little handles with spikes. That’ll be key if a person falls through the ice.

“You swim out of the ice or swim out of the water and onto the ice. You want to be horizontal. Envision a table. If you can be horizontal and swim onto the surface of the table and use the picks to assist yourself, to pull yourself horizontally, you’ll get onto that table. If you press down on the edge of the table and the table’s not very strong, you’ll just break it, and it’ll keep breaking around you.”

Saltonstall says a person should roll and try to distribute their weight across the ice so that they don’t put stress on any one point on the surface.

In addition to wearing picks, he advises people to go in pairs or groups and bring a line they can throw to their friends in the case of an accident.


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