Warm days, cold nights create ice danger in Denver area

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AURORA, Colo. -- The temperature swings between day and night are creating dangerous ice conditions on bodies of water across the Denver metro area.

Last week, the body of 6-year-old David Puckett was pulled from an Aurora pond.

When people or pets go into freezing waters, trained professionals spring into action. They go into the frigid water where seconds could mean the difference between life and death.

Aurora Fire Department officials stayed busy playing out real-life scenarios on Sunday.

“[Going under the water] sort of takes your breath away, and it’s hard to catch your breath,” Aurora Fire Department engineer Todd Hankins said. “Your first initial instinct is to struggle and try to get out of the ice.”

If you’re unable to save yourself, stay calm. Movement requires energy that should be conserved to retain as much body heat as possible, according to experts.

Firefighters first use a rope to attempt the fastest rescue possible, but if that doesn't work, a technical team member goes into the water. They stay dry and warm inside specialized suits that provide thermal protection and serve as flotation devices.

Hankins said many calls for help are for dogs that run onto icy ponds.

The Denver Fire Department rescued two people and two dogs from frozen ponds at Washington Park over the weekend.

“Definitely if your dog goes out on the ice, don’t go out and get him," Hankins said.

The Aurora Fire Department stresses that no body of water in the Denver area can be fully trusted in the winter months. That's because of the weather.

Cold evenings and warmer days cause a thawing and refreezing effect that keeps the rescue team very busy. Members of Aurora’s technical team stay busy year-round with swift water, collapse, shoring and rope rescues.