Frozen lake dangers: Walking on thin ice

By Kevin Jeanes - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Cold temperatures this winter has made some lakes in Virginia look safe to walk on, but looks can be deceiving.

To a child, it looks like a lot of fun... but it can be deadly.

It's been a harsh winter, and many Virginia lakes have been at least partially frozen. Which can be tempting for kids to run and play on the ice.

Just two weeks ago, a 7-year-old boy fell through the ice of a frozen lake in Virginia Beach and was rescued by his older brother.  And last year an elderly man was rescued from a lake in Byrd Park after slipping into the freezing cold water.

It doesn't take long for hypothermia to set in, which makes frozen lakes a major hazard for those who are tempted to test the ice.

Although the Richmond Fire Department tells me they only respond to one or two cases a year of someone falling through ice... this year has been much colder than average, so these frozen lakes or ponds may look like they can support you, but the fact is they can't.

Lakes typically need to be around 4 to 6 inches thick in order to support someone's body weight, and it takes about a week of sub freezing temperatures to accomplish that. So far this winter in Richmond we've only had three afternoon temperatures below 32 degrees... none of which were consecutive days.  That just isn't enough time to make any lake frozen enough to walk on.

So think twice about walking on ice this winter.

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