Playing it safe on seemingly frozen waters


Photographer- Randall Barnes
Reporter- Briana Conner

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky.— The cold weather has created a top layer of ice over a lot of local lakes and ponds, but how can you tell if it's safe to step out onto the surface?

Eight days ago, two children who were allegedly ice fishing fell through an icy pond in Carterville, Illinois. Neighbors in the area responded to the boy's calls for help, but they were only able to save one of them. First responders said getting out on seemingly frozen water isn't worth the risk. A fall can quickly turn fun and games into tragedy.

There's a different kind of water hazard at Drake Creek Golf Club this winter. "It may look safe, but it most definitely not safe. It is very, very dangerous," said kitchen supervisor Chris Kohler. There are frigid, frozen ponds lying just off the fairway, and chasing a bad drive could be tempting. Kohler said, "If they think they can get to it, I'm sure some will try to get the ball back."

Livingston County Sheriff Bobby Davidson said it's safer to just take the penalty. "Our ice here really never gets thick," he said. Falling through can be fatal. "The best thing that we can do is throw them a line or a branch and hope they can grab it. That's about all we can do."

Sheriff Davidson said another way to avoid a tragedy out on the ice is as simple as a conversation. "Set your kids down and be straight with them. Tell them stay off the ice," he said. That's advice Kohler said he's used to giving out at the club. "Any kids I see, I try to tell them to stay away from the ice."

Loose pets can be a big factor in ice falls that turn fatal. Sheriff Davidson says it's important to keep animals well-restrained. Call 911 immediately if you see someone who fell through thin ice. You can also try to throw something out to them that they can grab. Use it to pull them out of the water, then get them as dry and warm as you can.

There have not been any reported falls or drownings in the lakes or ponds in Livingston County so far this winter.