How to survive falling through the ice into freezing water

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ESSEXVILLE, Michigan (WJRT) - (02/12/2018) - Warming temperatures and melting ice are not a good combination for ice fishermen this time of year.

We covered several successful ice rescues last month, before two fisherman died last weekend after falling through the ice on Saginaw Bay in Huron County.

On Monday ABC 12's Amy Hybels suited up and got in the water in the Saginaw River with the U.S. Coast Guard to learn what to do if you fall into icy water.

It's a lesson that could end up saving your life.

It's not a situation any of us ever want to be in, but if you do find yourself in icy waters, the U.S. Coast Guard wants you to remember the 1-10-1 Rule.

"You have one minute to get your breathing under control, " said Petty Officer Alex Lopez, the lead instructor for the National Ice Rescue School. "You have ten minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour of consciousness."

When seconds count, knowing how to 'self rescue' could mean the difference between a rescue versus recovery operation.

Using two ice picks or screwdrivers, instructor Adrian Ledesma demonstrates the technique.

"I get my elbows up on the ice shelf," he said, "I stab them into the ice."

"Now I'm going to start kicking my legs to help propel myself out of the water," he said, "bring up one knee at a time time, rolling to stronger ice."

And if you don't have ice picks, Ledesma demonstrated the alternative.

"Ball up my fists," he said,"bring close to center of my chest."

"I'm going to start a kicking motion that's going to help me propel myself out of the water, as I Army crawl forward," he said.

He kicked out his leg behind him, to help propel him up onto the ice shelf, lifting one knee up at a time, then rolling over until he lands on stronger ice.

Lopez cautioned anyone venturing out on the ice should always have three things on their person: a life vest, a pair of ice awls--which can be purchased at any outdoor store - or small screwdrivers - and a hand held radio.

"Mayday is the only hailed on Channel 16," he said,"this way the Coast Guard will get wind of it, we can go out and respond."

The U.S. Coast Guard also recommends always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return and avoid traveling onto the ice alone.

While no one wants to end up in the water, knowing how to pull yourself out could save your life.

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