Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Feb. 7, 2000

Too close, too wet, too cold, too scary

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

Boys and girls, do you like to go ice skating, or just play on the ice?

When I was a little girl, playing on the ice was one of my favorite things. But I learned the hard way that you must be very careful when playing on frozen lakes.

Sometimes, even though it is winter, the weather can get warm enough to cause some of the ice on the lake or river to melt and turn to water. The more the ice melts, the thinner it becomes.

If you are not careful and you walk on thin ice, it could break and you could fall through into the lake.

One day, when I was a little girl, I was with my uncle on a lake. He was ice fishing and I was playing on the ice near him.

My uncle told me not to go to a certain part of the lake where he could see that the ice was not very thick. Well, I wanted to see what it was about the ice that made him think it looked different.

I went closer and closer to that different area, and the next thing I knew, the ice broke and I fell right into the icy, cold water.

My uncle came running, but he couldn't run right over to me because the ice near me was gone. He yelled to me to see if my feet could touch the bottom.

I was very cold and very scared. I put one foot down and yes, I could feel the bottom of the lake.

My uncle yelled, "I'm going to lay down on the ice and stretch out my hand. See if you can touch me."

My mittens were frozen right on to my fingers. I reached out as far as I could and my uncle grabbed my frozen hand. I could hear the ice cracking around him.

Quickly, my uncle pulled me out of the water, at the same time rolling off and away from the cracking ice, and pulling us both to where the ice was thicker.

My uncle picked me up and hurried off the frozen lake. As soon as we got on land, he pulled off my wet mittens and put his dry gloves on my hands.

We hurried to his truck where he had some old blankets. He quickly pulled off most of my wet clothing and wrapped me up in the blankets.

Then he started up the truck and drove up to my grandmother's house. He parked right up by the kitchen door, grabbed me and went running into the house, yelling for grandma.

When Grandma saw me, she opened up the oven door on the old wood cook stove and held me right in front of the fire. She put more warm blankets around me and rubbed me all over to help me warm up.

Then, she insisted I walk around and move my arms and legs up and down. I was very tired and I didn't want to move, but Grandma made sure I kept moving around until I started to feel warm inside.

It was a very scary experience. I was lucky that my uncle was there to save me and that I was able to get warmed up in time. It's possible to get so cold that your body quits working.

My grandma was very frightened by my experience, too. She wouldn't let me or my uncle go near the lake or river anymore that winter.

So boys and girls, don't go on the lake or river ice unless there is an adult with you to tell you that it's safe. Falling into icy water is not a fun thing to do.


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