Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Survive When You Fall Through Ice

Posted by Eric Smith

Photo by Paul Carroll

Winter is coming. And not in that fun "I'm quoting Game of Thrones" sort of way. In the omg-it-is-freezing-outside-I-hate-my-life kind of way. But with the cold comes a lot of fun, what with snowball fights, skiing, snow angels, and ice skating.

For those of you psyched to go skate like you're in a Charlie Brown Christmas, be careful. Those tempting open lakes can be dangerous.

To help you be prepared, today we've got an excerpt from The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel by David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven. Because hey, you never know. 

How to Survive When You Fall Through Ice

1. Breathe steadily. The shock of hitting the cold water will be great, but remain calm.

2. Turn in the direction from which you came. You most likely came from the area with the strongest ice.

3. Use your elbows to lift yourself up onto the edge of the whole. Do not get out yet. Hold yourself in that position. Let as much water as possible drain from your clothing.

4. Reach out onto solid ice as far as possible. If you have car keys, a comb or brush, or anything that might help you dig into the surface of the ice, use it to help pull yourself out.

5. Kick your feet as though you were swimming. Pull yourself up as you continue kicking.

6. Once on the ice surface, do not stand up. Stay flat and roll away from the hole. This distributes your weight more evenly and decreases your chances of breaking through the ice again.

Eric Smith


ERIC SMITH is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He’s written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and Philly.com