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FREMONT, OH (Toledo News Now) -
It may be ice fishing season, but safety officials say there are some areas off limits, including the Fremont Reservoir.
"Our position is: No ice is safe ice. There is no safe ice," said Chief Doug Crowell with the Ballville Township Fire Department.
Since winter arrived, on any given weekend at the reservoir you can find families sledding, ice skating and enjoying the great outdoors.
"This is the first actual winter that we've went through that there has been water in the reservoir, so it's new. It's something that people haven't exactly experienced before," said Crowell.
But curiosity can land you waste deep in trouble. Fremont safety officials have posted rules warning that ice fishing isn't safe, but they say many people don't understand they mean the ice is not safe to be on altogether.
In addition to a "no swimming" sign, a new sign will be posted warning people to stay off the ice. If people don't heed the warning and fall through the ice, firefighters would have to risk their lives to save them.
"We're going to have to go there, we're going to have to get suited up, take ropes. And we'll actually send someone out on the ice to attempt the rescue," explained Crowell.
The fire chief says reservoir levels rise and fall very often, and with the city pumping more water into it, the ice is constantly churning and weakening.
Expect to see new signs warning about the dangers of ice at the Fremont Reservoir Tuesday.
Are you, a friend or family member considering ice fishing?
-No ice is safe ice! Ice thickness varies across a lake. Avoid areas where there is flow (feeder streams and springs) or in-water obstructions (bridges pilings, docks, and dam structures), since ice is usually thinner around these objects
-Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present
-Let others know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return
-Place a cell phone in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture in case you get wet
-Always take along a throw cushion or wear a personal flotation device in case of immersion
If you fall into the water:
-Slip off loose boots to better tread water
-Use ice awls to pull yourself out of the water
-If no ice awls are available, call for help and try "swimming out" by letting your body rise up to firm ice and crawl out
-Stay flat, distributing your weight on the ice
-Keep your clothes on once out of the water to stay insulated
-If someone else falls in, REACH with a stick or fishing pole, THROW in a rope or flotation device, ROW or push a boat and GO call for help