Border Patrol and Coast Guard urge caution on ice, around water
No matter how low the temperature drops, cold weather doesn't stop Western New Yorkers from enjoying the outdoors. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti spoke with Border Patrol and the Coast Guard about staying safe on and near the water.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Western New Yorkers are practically professionals when it comes to dealing with winter weather.
But it can become dangerous in a matter of minutes - especially around water.
"We just want to make sure people are aware, anytime you're near the water, there's always the danger of falling in, slipping in, you know, kid goes running out, your dog goes running out," said Tim Gibbons, a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Gibbons says even getting partially wet can be serious when it comes to hypothermia, which he says sets in when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Blood starts moving away from your hands, your legs and into your core of your body to keep your vital organs running," said Gibbons, "Eventually, if you don't have any type of medical intervention, you can end up losing consciousness, get brain damage and possibly die."
So Border Patrol is ready to respond, as is Coast Guard Station Buffalo - their crews are out practicing two to three hours a day.
"We try to prepare for just about anything that can happen on the ice, you know, if an ice fisherman goes through the ice, if someone's out snowmobiling and they go through the ice," said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas D'Amore of the U.S. Coast Guard.
D'Amore says though the air has been frigid this week, the ice isn't as stable as people might think.
"With the warm weather before and then that blast of freezing cold air the ice will set up but it's not typically as strong as it would be if it's had a long time to cool down."
To help keep yourself safe, before you head out, the Coast Guard says just think I.C.E. – intelligence, clothing, equipment.
"Be smart about where you're going and what you're doing, dress for the weather, and bring your proper equipment. So if you're going out ice fishing, as silly as it might sound, bring a couple of screwdrivers, you fall through the ice, you can dig in and pull yourself out," said D'Amore.