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North Haven Fire Department Shares Cold Weather, Ice Safety Tips

NORTH HAVEN — Chief Paul Januszewski and the North Haven Fire Department would like to provide cold weather and ice safety tips to residents as temperatures continue to drop.

“As residents go about their winter activities, we’d like to remind everyone of the importance of dressing properly for the outdoors and paying attention to signs indicating that your body is losing heat,” Chief Januszewski said. “In addition, it’s important to remember that ice can be very dangerous. It is recommended that you measure multiple spots on the ice before testing it with your weight.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cold weather induced illnesses such as frostbite can occur even in temperatures above 40°F if a person becomes chilled by rain or sweat, or is submersed in cold water.

The North Haven Fire Department wishes to share the following tips from the CDC to help keep residents safe in cold weather situations and conditions.

  • When going outdoors, adults and children should wear:
    • A hat
    • Scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
    • Long sleeves that are snug at the wrist
    • Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
    • Water-resistant coat and boots
  • Residents are also reminded to layer their clothing strategically:
  • When choosing an inner layer, wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and do not absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.
  • Wear a layer of clothing for insulation. An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down, or a fleece work best.
  • Select your outer later carefully. The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.
  • Remember to try to stay dry while outdoors—wet clothing chills the body quickly.
  • Remember that excess sweating will cause your body to lose more heat, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
  • Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. Getting these materials on your skin will cause your body to lose a lot more heat.
  • Do not ignore shivering—it’s an important first sign that your body is losing heat. Constant shivering is a sign that it is time to go inside.

For additional information regarding cold weather safety, please visit

Ice and Cold Water Safety

The North Haven Fire Department would also like to remind residents to always be aware of the dangers of thin ice.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recommends measuring ice in multiple places before testing it with your weight. Ice that is four inches thick or less should be avoided completely. Four inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or any other activity on foot, and 5-7 inches of ice is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs. Residents are reminded that it is illegal to drive a car or truck on the ice in Connecticut.

Tips for remaining safe on the ice include:

  • Check the thermometer, not the calendar. Air temperatures and recent weather patterns can impact ice quality. Just because the ice was safe on a certain date last year doesn’t mean it will be safe this year.
  • Tell someone your plans. Let them know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
  • Wear a life jacket or float coat. If you fall in, it will help keep your head above water and provide some insulation against the effects of cold water.
  • Bring an ice safety kit: Rope, ice picks, whistle and spiked shoes/creepers. Know how to use the ice picks to rescue yourself and the rope to rescue others.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly-formed ice may support one person, while a foot or more of old, partially-thawed ice may not.
  • Beware of ice covered with snow. The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends, and inlets and outlets of lakes and ponds is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.
  • Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away. Continue to check the conditions as you move around on the ice.

What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice:

Call 911 for help if you or someone nearby has a phone. Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole as this would most likely result in two victims in the water.

  • Preach, Reach, Throw, Go:
    • Preach – Shout to the victim to reassure them that help is on the way.
    • Reach – If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, tree branch, jumper cables or ladder to them. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.
    • Throw – From shore, toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.
    • Go – If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform a rescue, don’t go out onto the ice. Call 911 for help. Untrained rescuers can become victims themselves.
  • If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice. Once safe, find shelter and change out of your wet clothes. Seek medical assistance immediately.

For additional information on ice safety, visit