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Lakefront Ice Is Beautiful But Deadly

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Ice on Lake Michigan (CBS 2/Mai Martinez)

Ice on Lake Michigan (CBS 2/Mai Martinez)

Mai Martinez Mai Martinez
Mai Martinez co-anchors CBS 2 Chicago’s weekend evening newscasts and...
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(CBS) – A dog was rescued last week along Chicago’s icy lakefront, but sometimes people aren’t so lucky.

CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports.

The water temperature currently is around 34 degrees, the Chicago Fire Department says. With temperatures that low, hypothermia sets in within seconds. Most people wouldn’t survive more than a couple of minutes in the water.

Despite the danger, people still test the ice — some intentionally, others by accident.

“Part of it is that sometimes you really can’t tell where the shoreline ends, and where the lake begins,” Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker says. “In the last three days, we’ve gone out on nine water rescues.”

Among those tempting fate Monday was a group of fishermen. They told Martinez they think the ice is safe.

“It’s 5 to 6 inches thick. You can come out in 2 inches and it will be OK,” one said.

“There’s no such thing as safe ice,” Dorneker counters. “You can fall through at any time.”

Dorneker says if that does happen, kick your feet and get your body in a horizontal position. Then, he says, try to climb out of the hole and roll away from it.

“By rolling, you displace your body weight, and you’re less likely to break through that ice,” he says.

The best way to stay safe is to simply stay off the ice — no matter how thick or beautiful it looks.

Another bit of advice: Keep your pets on a leash so that they don’t get out on the ice. Whether it’s a human or an animal in the water, it requires a full emergency response and that involves a lot of manpower and resources.

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