GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) - Eric Koch was ice fishing on the Grand River Tuesday when he fell through into the water. Compared to other ice anglers, he had an advantage: he knew he would be going in the water and was prepared.
He is actually US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Eric Koch and he played the role during a training exercise in Grand Haven.
The water temperature when he fell in was 34.4 degrees. In temperatures that cold, a person doesn't have very long.
"One of the first things I am going to use when I fall through is this pair of ice awls," he told 24 Hour News 8.
"You can use screwdrivers as well and dig yourself through the ice and kick your feet," added Senior Chief Kirk McKay. "If the ice is firm enough he can work himself up and then onto thicker, safer ice.
In 2009, hundreds of fishers found the ice had fissured and left them floating in Lake Erie. One person later died.
The number one mistake is not knowing ice conditions.
"We always say no ice is safe ice," Koch said. "There is an acronym we use to help people decide whether or not to go out, and it's called ICE."
- I -- Intelligence: Know the ice conditions. There should be at least 3 inches of ice.
- C -- Clothing: Dress in layers.
- E -- Equipment: Life vest, ice awls or screwdriver, flares.
Keeping marine-grade signaling devices nearby is also a good idea.
The Coast Guard practices ice rescues "just for that one case where someone does go through," he said. "Preparation and common sense go a long way."
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that ice is still unsafe in most of West Michigan especially where wind and current conditions come into play.
The Norton Shores Police Department is reporting three reports of stolen snowblowers this week.
About a dozen people were displaced.
One person was arrested after a threatening comment resulted in a school district briefly locking down its schools Friday morning.