How to Survive Falling Through Ice

How to Survive Falling Through Ice

(Modern – What’s the Most Important Step to Survive Falling Through Ice?

• Waving Arms

• Staying Calm

• Kicking Feet

• Yelling Loudly

Answer: Staying Calm. Here’s why…

Winter can bring great beauty, drawing people out into the wild to enjoy activities such as skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and ice skating. Unfortunately, winter can also be deadly. Plunging through the ice into a frozen lake or pond is one of the many hazards winter brings.

In the following video, Discovery has provided some life-saving information and tips on how to survive falling through the ice:

When a person falls through the ice, the freezing temperature shocks the body. This is commonly called torso reflex or cold shock, and it results in involuntary gasping. Cold shock can last up to three minutes, which seems a lot longer while treading water in excruciating pain. When this happens, don’t panic. Put your hands over your nose and mouth, keep water out of your mouth, and think clearly to get out alive because there’s not much time to act.

According to, after roughly 10 minutes in frigid water, a person will be unable to pull themselves out. That’s because the blood leaves the extremities to keep the core warm. This means your survival is on a timer and not a long one.

How to Get Out of Icy Water

The first step to getting out of the water is to orient yourself in the direction from which you fell. The ice you were walking on was strong enough to hold your weight, so that is the best place to climb out. If completely submerged, locate the hole to get your head above the water.

Once you have located the area where you were before taking the plunge, it’s time to Kick, pull, and roll.

  • Kick your legs to build momentum.
  • Pull yourself onto the thick ice while continuing to kick your legs.
  • Roll away from the hole. Do not stand up – the ice is unstable now and could break again. Rolling away will disperse your weight.

Once you’ve reached dry ground, you need to warm up fast. The body will continue to lose heat in a process called the after-drop. This is caused by the cold blood from the extremities beginning to circulate through the rest of the body again. Avoid rubbing your arms and legs to warm up. Re-circulation of cold blood increases the risk of hypothermia, which can lead to the loss of fingers and toes, and, eventually, death.

How to Properly Warm the Body After a Fall Through the Ice

The best bet to get warm quickly is to find a warm, dry location, remove the wet clothing, and wrap up in a blanket. Sipping warm fluids will aid in the process of heating up the body as well. Do not, however, sit too close to a fire or other strong heat source while thawing out. This can dilate blood cells and lead to organ failure. Seek medical help as soon as possible to ensure hypothermia hasn’t set in.

Winter can be a wonderful time to be out in nature, but it can also be deadly. Prepare ahead by knowing what dangers could be waiting in the wild.

To see how thick ice needs to be before it is safe to walk on, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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