Warning to stay off the ice in New York City parks

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Jeff Smith reports on the dangers of falling through thawing ice into rivers and ponds

Ponds and lakes in city parks are covered with ice, but no matter how cold it's been, these waterways are never safe to venture onto.

That's the message that was hammered home Tuesday from New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver at an event at Lasker Rink in Central Park.

There are 96 ponds and lakes in parks across the city, with warning signs to remind New Yorkers of the dangers of thin ice.

But not everyone follows that advice, and that's why the Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers are trained annually to respond to ice rescues.

Depending on the severity of the situation, there are a few basic techniques that are used, including ice ladders, picks, and the human chain.

You'll notice those rescue ladders next to the ponds and lakes in city parks. These are only meant to be used by first responders. The first and only thing you should do if you see someone in distress on the ice is to call 911.

Here are some ice safety tips from NYC Parks:

1. Never go on waterbodies that appear frozen.

2. Parents and caregivers should make sure children are never unattended near ice.

3. If you hear cracking, lie down immediately to try to distribute your weight.

4. If you witness someone falling through the ice, never attempt to make a rescue by yourself: call 911 and notify the proper authorities. Be sure to give the exact location and an account of the incident.

If you really want to lace up the skates, there are much safer options, including seven rinks within the New York City Parks system.

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