Warmer temps have kids walking on thin ice

WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - With recent fluctuating temperatures, some community members worry about kids playing on unsafe ice. A West Fargo resident posted a picture on the app, Nextdoor on Sunday, showing children standing on ice—saying they were close to open water.

Bridgette Bitzegaio lives near the Brooks Harbor pond, where the Nextdoor photo was taken. She herself has 3 children, all under the age of 13.

"I think it's fun to have ponds or creeks close by,” she said, “but I think it's also important with kids to educate them about when it's frozen over or when it's dangerous."

According to West Fargo fire chief, Dan Fuller, by this time of year, that’s not usually as much of a concern.

"Usually by right before Christmas, in between Thanksgiving to Christmas,” he said, “things freeze up enough that there's no problem. But just because of the mild winter that we've had, it's not a safe bet."

Chief Fuller says the Brooks Harbor pond in particular is less likely to completely freeze.

"It's right next to the pump house,” he said, “there is the possibility that if we get a lot of snow and a lot of storm water buildup, throughout the winter, that public works will pump into this pond, the increase flow will degrade the ice in certain areas and make it unsafe."
The West Fargo fire chief says so far this year, the police have responded to some calls of kids on potentially unsafe ice, though they haven't had any rescue calls yet.

He offers some advice on checking the ice:

"If you have your kids out here,” Fuller said, “if you wanna come here, what we recommend is going to the edge of the pond and drilling a hole, you need at least 4 inches on the edge.”

He advises to check for thickness every five to ten feet, and says on days like Monday—with temperatures going up to 50 degrees—when water can be seen coming up on the edges, it’s best to just stay off completely.

"If it's getting thicker as you get toward the center, you know you're pretty well set," Fuller said.

He also advises to stay off of rivers and other constantly flowing bodies of water completely. Most importantly, Fuller says, always accompany your kid to the icy area.
West Fargo mother, Bridgette Bitzegaio, agrees.

"As parents we always tell them they can't go down by water without an adult,” she said, “without adult supervision. And then we also just think it's important, especially if you see open water, but even it can be deceiving with snow on top, so our rule of thumb is just always with an adult.”