Case Study: Falling Through the Ice

Photo by Nikole Wohlmacher.

Editor’s Note: This case study is based on a real-life incident from the early 1980’s. This study was updated in 2024 to include more information about treating hypothermia.

You and three friends are on an early winter ski trip. To shorten the route, the group decides to cut across a lake, despite previously agreeing to avoid the lakes due to thin ice.

About 20 yards from shore you warn the others of “funny ice,” and suggest the group turn around. As you stop to talk it over with your companions, you break through the ice and sink up to your chest. Fortunately, the sled you’re towing keeps you from falling through completely.

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