SLEDsmart! USA Knowledge Base
Module 06 - Off-Road Terrain
OK, we’ve talked about avoiding the ice… and this is why. The absolute worst-case scenario is that you take a risk, travel across thin ice, the ice breaks beneath the weight, your sled sinks and you end up in the water. So, now what?
Survival, that’s what.
The first thing to remember, is if you fall through the ice is to stay calm, control your breathing and don't remove any of your gear (suit, helmet, gloves etc.). Even if your suit isn’t buoyant, your suit (and your helmet) may still help keep you afloat for several minutes.
Follow these steps if you fall through the ice:
Extend your arms out in front of you and place them on the unbroken ice surface to hold yourself up.
Don't try to pull yourself up onto the ice. This will place too much weight on the already fragile ice and will likely cause it to continue breaking under your weight since it's already been weakened. Instead, kick your legs hard in the water to propel your body forward.
If the ice continues to break, continue moving towards the unbroken ice back in the direction you came from on your sled. You know the ice will be thicker in this direction, since you’ve already traveled over it with your sled.
If you have ice picks, or a sharp object available, use it to help pull your body forward.
Once you're out of the water and back on the ice, don't stand up. Placing too much weight in a single spot may cause the ice to break again. Instead, ROLL away from the broken ice (your body weight will be distributed lengthwise) and don't stand up until you're well away from the hole.
Once you’re safe on solid ground, seek immediate help and take the proper actions to avoid hypothermia.