Kan. Firefighters Warn Residents of Dangers of Thinning Ice

Kan. Firefighters Warn Residents of Dangers of Thinning Ice

News Jan 19, 2018

The Wichita Eagle

Jan. 18—That ice on local ponds and streams may look tempting, but Wichita officials are urging people to stay away from it.

"Can't stress enough to stay off the ice," Wichita Fire Capt. Brent Holman said via social media Wednesday night.

While many residential ponds and creeks have frozen over during the recent cold snap, temperatures crept above freezing on Wednesday and will push into the 40s on Thursday and the 50s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"It's definitely going to be warming up," National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Darmofal said. "Any ice out there is definitely going to be melting and becoming unsafe."

The Wichita Fire Department posted a reminder of the dangers of thinning ice on its Facebook page late Wednesday night.

"In recent days with below freezing temperatures, our firefighters have witnessed children playing on ponds that appear to be completely iced over. PLEASE remind your family, not just the youngest ones, that it's not safe."

Holman said he understands the temptation that ice-covered ponds and creeks present.

"Kids are curious and it's fun to play and slide on but (there's) nothing more dangerous this time of year," Holman said. "There's no way to tell how thick or strong the ice is and if you fall through you'll be in for a fight for your life. The 'thermal hammer' alone is enough to stop your heart."

Three members of a California family fell through the ice on a lake in a Moundridge park last January, and two of them died. They were in Kansas visiting family and decided to go to the park in Moundridge on the first Friday of 2017.

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Trent Claasen, 8, ventured out onto the ice and fell through. His mother, Polly, died trying to save him. Gary, the husband and father, was saved when rescuers threw him a rope.

Erika Owen, 28, died after falling through the ice trying to retrieve her dog after it dashed onto a frozen pond to challenge another dog at Chisholm Creek Park in northeast Wichita in 2015.

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