Updated: February 10, 2021 06:23 PM
Created: February 10, 2021 05:30 PM
After 26 anglers were rescued on Lake Superior when the ice cracked and shifted Tuesday afternoon, the Duluth Fire Department (DPD) shared important reminders to keep in mind to have a safe ice fishing experience.
Assistant Chief Brent Consie said it's important to always have a plan and be prepared for the unexpected, since Lake Superior can be unpredictable.
Although emergency crews are trained and always ready to respond at a moments notice, Tuesday's scary incident could have had a bad ending. That's why DPD said it's important to take safety seriously.
"Make sure that you have a plan for your family. Let them know when you're leaving, when you plan to be on the ice and when you plan to come off the ice," said Consie.
Consie compares the ice on Lake Superior to a giant sail. With the wind and wave action, it doesn't take much for the ice to break off and shift.
"When something like that breaks off, it's typically before people are even aware because it happens slowly at first and they're not aware the ice chunk is broken off," said Consie.
He also stressed the importance of bringing safety gear with you like ice picks and life jackets incase you fall through the ice and having someone there with you to check on the ice house.
"Have somebody outside of your ice house that can see if something is happening rather than to just be inside of your ice house where you can't see anything," said Consie.
The uncertainty and quick changes on Lake Superior is why staying vigilant when you're out on the lake is key.
"Ice can break off. In the harbor the icebreakers are out there typically this time of year. We've seen ice shelves break off and they're drifting over to Superior or vice versa," said Consie.
Consie added that if you do get separated from your gear, don't attempt to retrieve it yourself. Ice houses and gear spread out fast and makes this a challenging and dangerous task that can put you and others at risk.
"The safest thing to do is to not go on that ice right there. I know that some people will. The main takeaway here is to just know that at anytime it could drift off and where you’re going and it may be a while before we can actually recognize that and then get to you," said Consie.
Fire and rescue crews are constantly training and preparing to respond to incidents like this and Consie credits that consistent training to Tuesday's quick and safe response to the scene.
"I'm very proud of the Duluth Fire Department and St. Louis County Rescue that were there on scene so quickly and were able to get everyone off the ice safely. It's really a testament to the dedication that our men and women have," said Consie.
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