By Michael P. Neufeld
Mountain Communities – Fines of up to $500 can be accessed for venturing out onto lake ice. The recent storm systems that moved through the area have contributed to additional ice being formed on several mountain lakes. With that in mind, authorities are cautioning residents and visitors to STAY OFF THE ICE!
Pets should also be kept off lake ice.
If someone or their pet falls through the thin ice covering, the water will be frigid. In fact, Big Bear Municipal Water District (MWD) reports the lake’s year-round average water temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit. But, that temperature drops when ice is on the lake and can cause the rapid onset of hypothermia.
The district urges anyone who witnesses someone or a pet on the ice to call 9-1-1 immediately. Not only is there a potential for disaster but it’s against MWD rules and San Bernardino County codes to be on lake ice.
ICE RESCUE TRAINING
Local emergency responders conduct regular training exercises on Big Bear Lake (and other mountain lakes) to be ready should someone fall through the thin ice that never gets cold enough to freeze to a depth that allows anyone to venture out on the ice.
MWD personnel indicate that that is because algae and other lake vegetation prevents a deeper freeze.
Firefighters and dive team members wear special suits to help keep them from suffering hypothermia during rescues and training exercises.
The best advice, should someone or a pet end up in the lake, is to call 9-1-1 immediately.