DENVER (KDVR) — In a single week, the metro area experienced temperatures ranging from the high 60s to below freezing. The shifts created a heightened risk on area lakes and ponds, which can appear to be frozen but are dangerously unstable.
“We may have a false sense of security by looking out and seeing a real thick layer of ice and don’t realize that ice is not that thick” said Denver Fire Department Captain J.D Chism.
Some wrongly believe entering a frozen pond but avoiding areas of thin ice will ensure their safety.
“You go out you think ‘how bad can it be I can make this, I can swim’ not recognizing how cold that water is and how difficult it is if you fall in the ice to get back out” said Chism.
Chism also explained exhaustion quickly sets in as victims struggle to avoid slipping beneath the surface of the water.
The Denver Fire Department conducts regular ice rescue training to make sure first responders are prepared.
FOX31 traveled to Rocky Mountain Lake Park where training was conducted on Sunday.
Divers submerged to the floor of the 30 feet deep lake to practice 360 sweeps beneath the ice.
Crews conducted real-time rescues using tethers.
“It can be very, very tiresome as we’re approaching that victim, especially if that ice is breaking on our approach” said Chism.
The department uses a special drone to gain an edge against time, which is crucial.
“They can go infrared technology just so they can identify something that we may not be able to see with the human eye” said Chism.
Denver Fire performed as many as 30 ice rescues over the past year, many involving people who ran after pets that fell through the ice.
Chism emphasized that the safest thing to do is call 911 immediately.
“We have the equipment and the technology to get there safely and get your pet out of the water,” he said.
Children and pets should be closely watched if living or playing near water.
“The best option is to just stay off the ice” said Chism.