What if someone else falls in?

What if someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone.

Rescue of victim who's gone through the ice

Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.

Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go

PREACH ‑ Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.

REACH ‑ If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder, or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.

THROW ‑ Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.

ROW ‑ Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.

GO ‑ A non‑professional shouldn’t go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out.

If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help and keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way and urge them to fight to survive. Heroics by well‑meaning but untrained rescuers sometimes result in two deaths. 


For more information, contact the Minnesota DNR for our free ice safety and hypothermia prevention brochures. Metro (651) 296-6157, or toll free in Greater Minnesota (888) 646-6367.

If you wish to re-use any DNR Boat and Water Safety materials from this Web site, please contact us.