Despite temperatures more reminiscent of late March than December, there were plenty of people out enjoying the ice on Lake Wausau, but the inconsistent ice depths did prove treacherous for one outdoor enthusiast. Shawn Gano saved a dog from drowning.
"Yeah, I was leaving the ice. I was all done fishing and I seen him stuck in the hole. He couldn't pull himself up, so I just reached over and pulled him out," says Shawn.
So it was a happy ending for our four-legged friend, thanks to a passer-by, but with the mild winter and warm conditions, officials say not everyone will be so lucky.
Lt. Rick Schultz with the Wausau Fire Department says, "Once or twice each year we do have to pull somebody out, be it an animal or somebody who was snowmobiling.”
Anglers, ATVs and trucks were all out on the ice this weekend, which in some spots was more than ten inches thick, but in other areas, the paper thin ice was reason enough for people to keep their vehicles off the frozen surface.
Ice conditions do vary across north central Wisconsin from region to region and lake to lake. Areas to watch out for, according to the Wausau Fire Department, are narrow channels or inlets and under bridges.
There are ways to help your chances of survival if you do fall through the ice. First, don't panic. React slowly, move to the edge of the hole and pull yourself out. When you are out, don't stand up. Roll away until you are a safe distance from the hole. Then, immediately take off any wet clothing and replace it with warm and dry clothes or blankets, and head to the hospital whether you feel sick or not.
They're steps you won't have to follow, if you listen to the experts.
Schultz says, "I wouldn't drive it. Ice is never 100 percent safe. That's one thing to really remember."
As a rule of thumb, Schultz says for a small car or truck, the ice needs to be between eight and 12 inches thick.