Officials warn of frozen pond and lake dangers

WASHOE LAKE, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s a common sight at Little Washoe Lake during the wintertime. Some local residents lace up their skates and glide along the frozen water. While this may be dangerous, and no doubt it is, Denise Barcomb says it doesn't stop her.

She says she has experience on this ice, and has fallen through it.

“You know I only fell in up to my thighs. I was actually cross country skiing at the time. And I actually had to kick off my skies and belly crawl until the ice could hold me up. So I learned from that. I learned that the water is really cold. And I don't want to get in again,” says Barcomb, a Washoe Valley resident.

She says for those who see her and others on the ice, she knows what she is doing. She does not recommend ice skating on Little Washoe Lake unless you have experience.

A paramedic firefighter we talked to couldn't disagree more.

“Don't go on the ice,” says Ben Kleinbach, a paramedic with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District. He is also a member of the water rescue team.

Three years ago, one young boy died on an iced over pond off South Meadows Parkway. A resident called after seeing the boy, whose friend and an adult tried to save him; but the boy went below the water line. Reno Fire Water Rescue spread out, and finally found the body.

Training for such rescues is intense. It takes place in the winter to mimic real-life conditions. Insulated suits are worn to protect rescuers who are putting their lives in danger attempting to save someone who’s fallen through the ice.

“Anyone who is involved going out on that ice, there is always a risk. Even though we have the equipment, and we have the training to make it more safe for us, there still is risk for everyone involved. It zaps your energy in about ten minutes or so. So you are not able to self-rescue. You are not able to hold onto a rope, and you are not able to climb back on that ice shelf,” says Kleinbach.

Both Barcomb and Kleinbach agree to be on the safe side, it's best to head to the skating rink downtown to experience all the fun---without the added danger.