An incident New Year’s Day near Algonkian Regional Park has prompted the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue to issue an urgent reminder and warning: don’t get caught on thin ice.
LCSO and LCFR remind residents to never walk or attempt to drive a vehicle on frozen stream, rivers or ponds.
On Jan. 1, several young adults drove an SUV on the Potomac River near the park. Authorities remind residents that this is dangerous and unlawful, according to the U.S. Park Police.
During Monday’s incident, ice under the vehicle gave way and the SUV became stuck near the shoreline. The people in the vehicle were able to exit safely and the vehicle had to be towed from the water.
Also of concern is residents attempting to walk or skate on waterways. The region has experienced unseasonably cold temperatures in the past few weeks causing many waterways to freeze. Although it may seem the ice is thick enough to walk on, the actual strength of the ice may be far less than it appears particularly when temperatures exceed the freezing mark.
Many communities in Loudoun County strictly prohibit ice skating on frozen ponds.
“If you live near a waterway, we ask that you remain watchful for children attempting to venture onto the ice,” Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said. “It is also important for parents to speak with their children about the dangers of walking and playing on frozen ponds and rivers.”
If you should find yourself in a situation where a person has fallen through the ice, Loudoun emergency personnel ask that you do not panic and encourage the victim to keep calm. Call 911 immediately.
“Extend an object, such as a tree branch or rope, but never attempt to enter the water,” Loudoun County Fire Chief W. Keith Brower said. “A bystander attempting a rescue by entering the water or going onto the ice could become a victim themselves in a matter of seconds.
“If a dog or another animal falls through the ice, do not go to its rescue. If the ice did not support the animal it will not take your weight.”
More winter safety and preparedness tips can be found at Loudoun.gov/winter