From the New Lenox Fire Department:
Cold weather and freezing conditions are here. The New Lenox Fire Department asks that you please consider these safety tips before stepping out on a frozen lake or pond. They could save your life or the lives of others.
If you witness a person or animal fall through ice, never attempt to make a rescue alone. Call 911 and be sure to give the exact location and an account of the incident. Additionally, when calling, you will want to let the 911 Operator know how many people are involved, whether they are visible submerge, and if so, how long ago it happened.
If you come across a person that has broke through the ice and is visible, remember to "reach and throw." Once someone has been sent to call 911, bystanders are urged not to go out onto the ice. You could become a victim yourself. The fire department recommends the “reach and throw" approach.
Try first to reach a conscious victim not too far from shore by extending a tree branch or something similar. For longer distances, throw a rope, hose or something similar. Something that floats, like a cooler, that the victim can hold onto could also work.
Icy water can incapacitate even fit individuals in a matter of minutes, so you truly are taking your life in your own hands by attempting an ice rescue without the proper gear or training.
And what if you fall in yourself?
If you are the one in the water, don’t try to pull yourself up over the icy edge. Instead, the best self-rescue technique is to “swim” out.
Try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came. The safest place to pull yourself back up is the last place you stepped before you went through the ice.
Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface of the ice. Lift your forearms over the edge and allow your body to lay nearly horizontal in the water. Then, the experts say, use big “frog” kicks in the water to push yourself onto the ice. Lift your arms straight into the air as you kick.
Trying to “pull” with your arms will only cause you to slip back into the water. Once you are lying on the ice, roll away from the weak or broken ice without attempting to stand up.
Finally, never go near the edge of a hole in the ice to retrieve pets or an object. It is perfectly acceptable to call 9-1-1 for a pet rescue.