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DEC reminds us to be safe on ice

Like any outdoor activity in the Adirondacks, being prepared is key.

If you plan on skiing in the High Peaks - the Avalanche Pass perhaps - be sure to pack rope measuring at least 50 feet.

Winchell notes that if someone goes through the ice, remember these simple rules: reach, throw, go.

Rescuers should start with "reach" by lying on their belly and staying away from the edge of the broken ice. Pull the person onto the ice by using a tree branch, hiking stick or a ski pole.

Once on the surface, both the victim and the rescuer should roll away from the edge then crawl on all fours until out of harm's way. Winchell then recommends retracing your exact path back to land.

The "throw" step involves using rope to pull the person to safety. Continue pulling the person until they are out of danger.

As for "go," that's the recommendation if rescuers can't risk saving the victim on their own - in other words, go get help.

If you fall through, Winchell says it's imperative to start warming up as soon as possible.

"Immediately move and get back to your car," he said. "If that's too far away, you need to move to shore and possible start a fire. So another good preparation is to have some sort of fire starter with you as well."

Any winter activity, whether on the ice or not, requires the appropriate clothing. That means wool or some sort of synthetic alternative - never cotton, Winchell notes.

"And if you're going to be out there for sometime, you should also consider some sort of portable shelter," he said. "There's shelters similar to tents that you can set up. A lot of ice anglers use shanties to protect themselves from the cold."

Winter anglers often enjoy a nip from the flask while searching for those land-locked salmon - and a cold brew may be refreshing after a rousing game of pond hockey.

But Winchell cautions that even though alcohol may warm your belly, it actually increases the risk of hypothermia.

"The consumption of alcohol can actually make you more susceptible to hypothermia than drinking non-alcoholic beverages," he said. "You may feel warmer, but in reality, you're not."

And although the DEC won't issue recommendations for motorized access to lakes and ponds, Winchell cautions that drivers who break through and find themselves submerged could face steep penalties if the vehicle isn't retrieved quickly enough - especially if it begins leaking fuel into the water.

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