By Susan Koeppen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – January’s warmer weather may be welcome to many people, but it can have a dangerous side effect.

Recently, an ice skater fell through the ice at one of the lakes in North Park and had to be rescued and pulled to safety.

There was also a tragic scene this week in New Jersey, when rescuers looked for two boys who fell through the ice.

Experts say frozen lakes and ponds can be death traps for people and animals. Ice can be stable in one spot and open up like a trap door in another.

“We like to say that no ice is safe ice,” water safety expert Bob Ogoreuc said.

It’s the beginning of January; so many lakes are still frozen, including Marshall Lake in North Park – a popular fishing spot. But the weather is getting warmer, which could be dangerous.

“Yeah we see the temperatures change the structure of the ice and it will make dramatic changes in the structure and stability of it,” Ogoreuc said. “We all need to take precautions.”

Ogoreuc says anyone who ventures onto the ice should wear a life vest and have a whistle to attract attention for help.

It’s also a good idea to carry an ice pick. It can be used to pull oneself out of the cold water.

But Ogoreuc has advice if someone falls through without any of those things.

“Get your arms up on the ice, establish some stability with your arms,” he says.

It’s also a good idea to remove gloves, to use bare hands on the ice and kick your legs aggressively.

“Your hands will stick to the ice, they will freeze and give you more traction,” Ogoreuc said. “… don’t stand up … Roll yourself away from the entrance of where the ice broke.”

And never go out on the ice to rescue someone. It’s always best to stay on the shore and offer items such as a long branch, rope or even jumper cables.

“This would be a great piece of equipment to use and stay on solid ground and extend and we normally find in the back of a vehicle,” Ogoreuc said. “… spare tire, even a cooler. Dump the contents and slide it out and that can be used as a flotation too.”

Falling through the ice can happen in an instant and without warning, so experts say to be prepared and never expect that any ice is solid.

“That is correct, no ice is safe ice,” Ogoreuc said.

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