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Columbus Police: Lakes Not as Frozen as they Appear

COLUMBUS (Ken Hines) -- Police divers hope central Ohioans take their advice and stay off frozen bodies of water when temperatures drop.

With another cold front expected to hit the area, members of the Columbus Division of Police Underwater Search and Recovery Team are preparing for the possibility of entering frigid water to rescue people who misjudge the stability of icy ponds and rivers.

Team member Tim Halbakken told ABC 6/FOX 28 the rapidly changing temperatures in central Ohio this winter make it difficult to identify dangerously thin ice.

"When we have transitional weather, [you] don't know how thick the ice is, or how the water flows underneath," Halbakken said.

Team members are carrying rescue rope bags which can be used to pull people to safety if they fall into frigid water, and recommend that anyone who decides to venture on to frozen bodies of water take similar precautions.

"If, for some reason, you absolutely have to go out, we strongly suggest that you have someone on the shore with a rope that is connected to you, that has the strength to be able to pull you out of the ice should you go in," Dive Master Steven Kaethow said.

Even strong swimmers face life-threatening danger when falling through ice due to the impact of near-freezing water on the body, as well as the added weight of soaked clothes.
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