As severe winter weather looms, Marysville fire chief Gary Johnson said residents should stay alert and cautious when dealing with ice-covered water in Union County.

As severe winter weather looms, Marysville fire chief Gary Johnson said residents should stay alert and cautious when dealing with ice-covered water in Union County.

"The best thing that can be stated about the safety of ice is that no ice, no matter what you think, is completely safe," Johnson said. "There are many factors involved in the thickness and safety of ice. These safety factors always remain unknown, even to the experienced observer."

Johnson said that as general guidelines, those who must go out on the ice should never go alone, should always carry a cell phone, and should always tell someone where they are going and what time they should be expected to return.

"Total immersion in cold water is painful and quickly disorients the victim," Johnson said. "The dangers of ice should never be underestimated."

Johnson said the fire department offers the following advice if a resident falls into ice-covered water, or sees someone else fall in:

Keep calm and think out a solution.

Don't run up to the hole. You'll probably break through, and then there will be two victims.

Use some item on shore (such as jumper cables, rope, a large branch, etc.) to throw or extend to the victim, to pull them out of the water.

Call 911 immediately.

Get medical assistance for the victim. People who are subjected to cold water immersion may seem fine after being rescued, but can still suffer a potentially fatal condition.

Johnson said that the main contributing factor in cold water immersion injuries and deaths at this time of year involves people going after their pets that have fallen through the ice.

"It should be noted that bodies of water owned by the city, including the reservoir, prohibit any activity in the water or on the ice," Johnson said. "As with most things in life, common sense goes a long way."