Emergency crews took to Lake Ontario early Saturday to ensure they are best prepared for cold water and ice rescues.

They also provided insight on the do’s and don’ts of enjoying waterways and ice this winter season.

There are plenty of activities in the cold winter months for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy at the lake. This includes fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, and boating. Personnel at the U.S. Coast Guard say while it is all fun and recreation, think twice about the ice.

“There is no such thing as safe ice,” said Chief Petty Officer Jarrod Rock of U.S. Coast Guard Station Rochester. “The ice may thin; the conditions are not going to be consistent throughout the week. It changes day to day, so knowing the thickness and depthless of water is key. As for survival, dress for water and ice conditions.”  

Irondequoit Bay is one of many places where ice mishaps can occur. West Webster and Sea Breeze fire departments teamed up with the U.S. Coast Guard to demonstrate how crews perform under pressure, use techniques and safety equipment to save lives.

“Everything that everyone is wearing today is a dry suit,” said Capt. Tim Kohlmeier of West Webster Fire Department. “Our rescuers use a variety of different suits. One is a swift water suit; one is an ice suit.”

A joint training conducted by the crews simulated a scenario where there was an ice skift out on the lake and reenactors who needed emergency services. In case of someone getting stuck or falling through the ice, the rescue procedure is described as no easy task.

“There’s a sling around them,” said Rock. “They will pull the sling over the person. They’ll sinch it tight, and drag the person on the skift and away from the hazard.”

“Our firefighters are focused on the mission,” said Kohlmeier. “The reality of that experience is being in the moment. Its mission focused; it’s skillsets.

Emergency and rescue personnel say their training also serves as a friendly reminder to have fun but be safe while venturing onto the lake this winter.