The West Fargo Fire and Police Departments remind residents to stay safe by staying off iced over retention ponds and the Sheyenne River. The National Weather Service reports that nearly 20% of those who fall in cold water die in the first minute of immersion due to cold water shock.
“The best way to stay safe is to stay off West Fargo’s retention ponds and the Sheyenne River in the winter,” said Dan Fuller, West Fargo Fire Chief. “Retention ponds and the Sheyenne River should never be walked on or used for recreational activities after they ice over.”
First appearances can be deceiving when it comes to ice forming on bodies of water. It may look as though it is frozen solid, but there is no guarantee the ice will be thick enough to withstand extra weight.
“We urge everyone to stay off West Fargo retention ponds and the Sheyenne River,” said Denis Otterness, Chief of the West Fargo Police Department. “Due to constantly changing factors, bodies of water in the City are not safe to go on and are not meant for recreational activities.”
The integrity and strength of ice on retention ponds and rivers are lowered by several factors, including layers of water flowing under the ice, daily temperature changes, salt water drainage and sump pumps placed throughout retention ponds. Snow can insulate the ice, impacting ice formation and hiding signs of unsafe ice.
If residents do travel to a body of water that is meant for winter recreation, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department recommends always checking the thickness of the ice first. If ice is less than 4 inches thick, stay off the body of water. More information on ice safety can be found online at https://gf.nd.gov/ice-safety
If an individual does fall through the ice, call 911 immediately. The West Fargo Fire Department has specialized equipment and completes training to allow them to respond safely to these situations.