Officials Warn of Thinning Ice

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Officials are warning of unusually dangerous ice conditions on the Chena River.

Warm temperatures, along with unusual conditions on the Chena river have caused ice in many areas to be dangerously thin.

Already this year, two snowmachiners have fallen through the ice on the Chena.

On Saturday evening, another snowmachiner went through the ice near Pikes Landing.

Greg Coon, Battalion Chief at the University Fire Department, was one of the first people on the scene.

"In both cases of the last two water rescues that we had,” Coon said. “Both were snowmachiners that went through the water, both maintained calm and they did the right things. The last person, they stayed calm, maintained their presence on the edge of the ice until we could come assist them."

Coon says when someone goes through the ice they have around 10 minutes, on average, before their body stops functioning.

This is usually more than enough time to get out of the water or wait for rescue.

He says 'knowing what to do' is the key to surviving.

If someone does fall through the ice, they should remember to stay calm, put their forearms on the ice, and then face the direction they came from since that ice is already known to be safe.

Then they should kick their feet and drag themselves onto the ice.

If their hands slip off, they can leave them on the ice for a minute or so and let them actually freeze to the ice, which gives them some grip to get out.

Coon also said that another way to get out is to use a special tool that has little spikes or even a pocket knife to help.

But he emphasizes that people shouldn’t take chances and simply avoid the ice.