Don't trust the ice, says Norfolk Fire Department

A man stepped on thin ice
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NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The cold temperatures are causing lakes, rivers and ponds to freeze. However, if you’re thinking about doing some ice skating that’s a not a good idea, according to the Norfolk Fire Department.

They say there is no ice thick enough anywhere in Hampton Roads that would be considered safe to walk or play on.

"Right now the temperature of our water here in Norfolk is about 40 degrees, in order for the water to actually freeze and be thick enough for anyone to step on, the water has to be between 20-25 degrees," said Damon Langley with the Norfolk Fire Department.

Langley said if you were to fall in, hypothermia would take affect within seconds.

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"Within five seconds you start to have that increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, within minutes you may not have that ability to move your fingers and arms," said Langley.

The fire department has crews, boats and equipment ready to go in case of such an emergency.

"Even the skilled swimmers on the team wear their own personal flotation devices," said Langley.

They have to be prepared, the fire department says the Chesapeake Bay is actually colder than the waters of Alaska because of all the tributaries that flow into it.

“I haven’t seen it freeze over like this in years, since 2001 I’ve been living here,” said resident Nathan Johnson.

Johnson lives across the street from the Lafayette River and  is captain of the neighborhood watch. Normally he’s keeping an eye out for crime but Tuesday he was watching out for children getting too close to the water.

 “Well I have come up on kids that have been playing out here,” said Johnson. “I caution them about being out on the river, period, not just when it’s freezing over like this.”

If you or someone you are with does fall into freezing water there are a couple of things you can do to protect yourself.

Don’t frolic around, remain calm. Get out of the water as quickly as possible. Take off all your clothes and wrap your body in blankets. Get to a warm place and turn up the heat.