SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A safety reminder is being distributed across western Massachusetts about ice ponds.

In Springfield, Mayor Domenic Sarno is asking residents to stay off lakes and ponds during the winter season, even during this cold snap. The cold weather and severe wind chills can provide a false impression that these bodies of water are safe to walk on.

While in Longmeadow the safety of their ponds is at also risk. The Longmeadow Fire Department indicated that it is never safe to walk on pond ice. “Many factors impact the safety of ice on ponds. Underwater springs, currents, temperature, wind, road runoff, debris, vegetation, and bird activity can all impact the safety of the ice,” said Longmeadow Fire Department. “The only truly safe ice is found at a skating center. In Longmeadow, we do not inspect the ice and do not make any guarantee of its safety. In fact, our park rules prohibit activities on the ice in our parks as a safety precaution.”

Parents are encouraged to speak to their children about ice safety and to stay off lakes and ponds. Although the weather is cold, the temperatures have not been cold long enough for the ice to be safe to walk or skate on, as there may be still running and moving water underneath the small layer of ice on the surface. This ice will not support someone’s weight and will break.

Longmeadow fire department adds, “it seems that every winter we read about another tragedy when someone ventures on unsafe ice. We all need to educate ourselves and our children regarding the dangers of being on the ice. If you fall through the chances of self-rescue are very low. The cold water will immediately affect your body and limit your ability to help yourself.”

If you witness someone (person or animal) go through the ice, Longmeadow Fire Department recommends:

-Step 1: Call 911; get fire and police on the way. As they are equipped and trained to rescue victims who have fallen through the ice.

-Step 2: Tell the person to remain calm, not struggle and hold onto the ice. Do not go on the ice and try to grab them. If they stay still and hold on they have the best chance for survival and rescue.

-Step 3: Using a stick, rope, or another object, try to reach for the victim from shore and have them hold on. If the victim has the strength, you can attempt to pull them out. Remember, cold water greatly reduces one’s ability to hold on. Simply securing the victim and waiting for first responders may be the better option.

-Step 4: If the person goes under the water, make sure you know exactly where they went under. This greatly increases our opportunity to rescue the victim.