ROCHESTER _ Members of the Rochester Fire Department traded fire for ice as they honed their ice rescue skills.
Department members visited the Neck Road boat launch area Jan. 19 to test out the new Inflatable Ice and Whitewater Rescue Boat and their more familiar Ice Rescue Sled.
“The ice looks appealing and fun to get out and slide around, but with fluctuating temperatures, the ice in our area is not safe for fishing or skating,” the department reported on its Facebook page.
They learned this firsthand during their exercise. “Our members spent much of the evening swimming in their cold water drysuits, [more] than they did while sliding on the thin ice shelf,” the department members wrote.
The Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife offers some suggestions for staying safe on the ice:
Remember that new ice is stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice can support a person on foot, while a foot or more of partially thawed old ice may not.
Ice does not freeze evenly. Continue to check ice conditions frequently when venturing out on the ice.
Ice formed on flowing water and currents is often more dangerous. Avoid traveling on frozen rivers and streams, as currents make ice thickness unpredictable. Many lakes and ponds can contain spring holes and other areas of currents that can create deceptively dangerous thin spots.