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Staying Safe on the Ice this Winter

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — Not far from the Oxbow Marina in Northampton, a few hearty souls tried their luck at ice fishing Thursday afternoon.

It hasn’t been that long since the river iced over, but already it’s thick enough to need drilling to drop a line.

This is the second trip out on the ice for Dave Labonte of Easthampton. He was eager to try his brand new ice auger and reel in a big one. “I go (ice fishing) at least  a couple of times a week. I enjoy it.”

Part of that enjoyment comes from years of experience… and knowing when it’s safe.

According to the Northampton Fire Department, ice fisherman aren’t the ones they worry about when it comes to falling into the frigid water. “This time of year people are actually dying to get on the ice… fisherman, I know that,” said Capt. John Garriepy of the Northampton Fire Department. “And they’re pretty good. They are the ones that know to check the ice.”

Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before its considered safe to stand on. Garriepy says if someone does fall rescuers should remember three things: Reach, Throw, and Go.

  • Reach: If you can reach the person from shore, try to pull them up and out.
  • Throw: If you can’t reach them throw them a line… A branch, rope, even jumper cables.
  • Go: If that still doesn’t work… go for help and call 9-1-1.

Another safety tip – if you see an animal that’s fallen though the ice, don’t try to rescue it by yourself. In that situation it’s always best to leave it to the professionals and call 9-1-1.


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