Temperature shifts make ice unstable

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published March 27, 2015

 Freeze-thaw cycles can weaken ice and cause accidents.

Freeze-thaw cycles can weaken ice and cause accidents.

Photo by Donna Agusti


OAKLAND COUNTY — As the temperature fluctuates between freezing and above freezing, officials are reminding residents to stay off the ice this time of year.

Freeze-thaw cycles can weaken the ice and cause accidents, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a press release. The cycle produces “frazzle ice,” or ice that contains air pockets and has an appearance of frozen slush. Frazzle ice can appear milky white or black in color. And because the ice is dangerous, officials are offering ice safety tips in the event of a dangerous ice situation.

“As we experience increasing temperatures and spring weather, it is important to remember that no ice is safe at this point in the season. Remind friends and family of these safety tips, which can potentially prevent a tragedy on our rivers, lakes and streams,” Bouchard said in a press release.

A representative from the Oakland County Marine Division could not be reached for additional comment.

People who hear the sound of ice cracking or detect unsafe ice should lay down on the ice and distribute their weight evenly, according a press release. Then they should crawl to safer ice using the same path taken out.

In the event that a person falls through the ice, observers should avoid running to the hole in the ice. Instead, call 911 and then use a pole, branch, rope or another object that can be extended to pull the victim from a safe position, officials said.

If one falls through the ice and is alone, call out for help and reach up for safer ice. A screwdriver or ice awl can be used to assist with a self-rescue, the press release said.

West Bloomfield Fire Chief Jay Wiseman said that he does not recommend anyone or any animal be out on the ice this time of year, as most of the lakes in the greater West Bloomfield area have open water around the edges.

“If you’re out there, it’s too late already. You’re probably going to get wet, and it’s not a good idea. You shouldn’t be out there, period,” Wiseman said.

Pets are at risk of drowning if they venture onto unsafe ice. Though a person’s first inclination may be to save the animal, Wiseman said pet owners should stay on the shore and call 911.

“People do care about the wildlife and their pets greatly around here, and they will essentially say, ‘If you’re not going to come, I’m going to go get them.’ We don’t want our residents to go out there ill-equipped,” Wiseman said. 

Wiseman said that at around 7:45 p.m. March 22, fire crews were dispatched to rescue a deer that had wandered onto Walnut Lake in West Bloomfield.

“This time of year,  even animals are getting stuck out on the ice,” Wiseman said.