Coast Guard taking new approach to ice safety

BAY COUNTY (WJRT) - (12/04/18) - The U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River is taking a new approach to ice safety after an unusually busy winter.

The all-seasons-rescuers hope you'll join them for two upcoming Ice Safety Public Outreach classes so they don't have to meet you on the ice.

Petty Officer Vanessa Scasny reports last winter, from Oct. 2017 to March 2018, the Coast Guard responded to help 94 people across the Great Lakes. A total of 19 of those people actually needed the help of the Coast Guard. Nine of those people were rescued on the Saginaw Bay or Saginaw River.

Scasny said locally they responded to several different types of calls. "People in the water, people stranded on the ice, equipment stranded on ice, and then also lost and disoriented in the fog, and then we had multiple ones in the same night," she said.

Along with all the saves they made, two people didn't survive the elements.

"We want people to have fun, we want people to enjoy ice fishing and Michigan for everything that is has to offer, but first before you go be safe," Scasny said.

December 8 and 15 the Coast Guard is hosting Ice Safety Public Outreach classes in Sebewaing and Linwood.

Scasny said ice safety begins before anyone ventures onto the ice. It begins with an ice plan. "That's where you tell someone at home where you're going, what you're wearing, when you're going to be back, all that good information to help us in case something does happen," she said.

The classes will also focus on necessary equipment.

Scasny said wear a lifejacket, take a whistle, a flashlight or strobe light, and you'll need ice picks or screwdrivers.

"We're going to teach them to get out of the ice if they do fall in, and if they do manage to get out, then what to do if their fishing buddy falls in and can't get out," Scasny said.

The classes are free and there will be ice gear giveaways.

"The goal is to have a safer ice season. So we may not be able to prevent everything, but maybe with these outreaches we can save at least one or two people with them," Scasny said.

The Dec. 8 class will be at the VFW Hall in Sebewaing, located at 265 W. Bay Street.

The Dec. 15 class will be at the Linwood Beach Marina showroom. It's located at 135 S. Linwood Beach Raod in Linwood.

Both classes begin at 6 p.m.

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