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Lake Ice Not Yet Safe Enough to Walk On

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As Montana continues to experience cold weather, some lakes in the region have started to freeze over.

After several days of below zero temperatures and added wind chill, the surface of Spring Meadow Lake has started to freeze.
But Jim Sheppard of Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue says the ice is only a half inch, to an inch thick.

"Not even close to being safe enough yet. You want 3-4 inches of ice before you walk on it and it needs to be nice and clear."

Sheppard suggests residents use extreme caution when near the ice.
He says to wait at least two to three weeks, when the ice should become thicker after more cold weather.

"Bigger lakes are going to take longer because they've got more current flow in them. They turn over more. So they tend to freeze a little bit slower.”
Sheppard stresses being prepared when near the ice. That means wearing many warm layers, and a life jacket. He says to avoid cracks and fissures in the ice but if a person falls through, his team will be ready.

"We're gonna reach. If we can, if they can reach at something. It's the safest method. We'll throw something out to them if possible. If we can have them grab onto a rope or a rope bag."

Sheppard says if you fall through the ice try to grab onto the surface and hold on because in minutes, your body could become too cold and shut down.

"We work in rescue mode for about an hour. There have been resuscitations of 90 minutes. But there's no guarantees on that."
Sheppard says it's important to bring another person with you when you go to the ice.
He also recommends letting other people know where you are going.

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