With Bitter Cold Temperatures, KS Cases of Falling Through Ice Offer Warning

Jason Tidd

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT)

Feb. 9—First responders are warning Kansans to stay off of ice after incidents of people falling into water amid a widespread freeze.

In Wichita, a mother and her two children are OK after ending up in water while on a walk Tuesday afternoon. In Phillips County, an Agraresident drowned after falling through the ice.

“This isn’t the time to place blame, it’s time to share the story and potentially help save a life,” the Wichita Fire Departmentsaid in social media posts. “Talk to your family about avoiding bodies of water that LOOK frozen, especially with temperatures being so low right now. So many times it only looks thick enough to hold weight.”

The incident happened at the Great Plains Nature Center, where the mom was walking with her 10-year-old and 2-year-old children, Wichitapolice said. The older child had walked onto ice and fell through into waist-deep water. The mom went into the water to grab her son, and the 2-year-old followed her.

“Both kids were quickly pulled to a safe location and there were no serious injuries,” police said. “A reminder for parents to talk to their kids about not playing on ice.”

In Phillips County, emergency crews were called Tuesday afternoon to the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge. The sheriff’s office said a 67-year-old Agraresident went through the ice and drowned.

Sub-freezing temperatures are leading to more ice formation across Kansas. The National Weather Serviceoffice in Wichitarecorded a high temperature of 15 degrees on Tuesday, as well as maximum wind gusts of 24 mph.

Temperatures are not expected to get above freezing for at least a week, as the NWS forecasts highs in the teens most of the week. Wind chills during that time can make the temperature feel like it is below zero. There are also slight chances for snow, especially over the weekend.

High temperatures are typically 47 degrees this time of year, with lows around 24 degrees. The chilly temperatures have yet to break any cold weather records in Wichita.

Across the NWS Wichita service area, dangerously cold temperatures are predicted this weekend. Forecasted lows range between zero and negative 15 degrees, while wind chills are expected to be between 10 and 30 below.

“People exposed to extreme cold are susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes,” NWS Wichita meteorologists said. “Areas most prone to frostbite are uncovered skin and the extremities, such as hands and feet.

“Avoid going outside during the coldest parts of the day. If you do go outside, dress in layers, and cover exposed skin.”

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