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Portage Canal accident reminds people to be careful on ice

The ice isn’t so thick this year on the Portage Canal
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 6:59 PM EST
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HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - A man from Macomb County, Mich. fell through ice and into the Portage Canal late Sunday evening.

Patrick Boberg, CEO and a paramedic at Mercy EMS said this happens too often.

“Each year we get calls for people who’ve gone through the ice,” said Boberg. “Whether it’s snowmobiling or ice fishing, or just testing the waters and going out and messing around on the ice.”

In optimal conditions the ice can handle decent weight. However, this winter the Keweenaw brought anything but optimal conditions so far.

“With [the] Portage Canal,” said Boberg. “We’ve been having warmer than usual temperature.”

Boberg stated canals don’t freeze as well as other bodies of water.

“They have currents underneath them... so the water is constantly moving,” he said. “Which creates ice hazards.”

Broberg said if you do find yourself going through ice you can try to stabilize yourself.

“Get up to the ice surface, and put your shoulders up [and onto the ice],” he said. “Start hollering for help... you can obviously try lifting yourself up, but more ice may break away.”

Boberg also explained you need to keep calm if someone else goes under.

“Don’t make yourself a victim,” he said. “Right away call 911 and get EMS and [the] fire department heading that way.”

He explained rope works best, but even jumper cables can be used to toss to someone unable to get out of ice to pull them out. After a patient is rescued and into EMS care, Boberg said they must heat the core of the body to treat hypothermia.

Finally, Boberg said it’s always wise to check the ice at the shore for thickness before venturing out.

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