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February 1, 2011

Carbon monoxide is deadly threat in sealed shanties

MADISON - The recent rescue by a state conservation warden and a fishing guide of two ice anglers overcome by carbon monoxide in their heated shanty is a safety reminder, especially those prepping temporary shelters for the upcoming sturgeon season in northeast Wisconsin.

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, also chief of recreation enforcement and education, says ice fishers must remember to ventilate shanties and tents when heating the temporary shelters with a gas or liquid heater.

"Any flame will eat oxygen, which is why an opening at the top and another at the bottom of a shelter is the best route when using a portable heater," Schaller said. "The successful rescue and ultimate resuscitation of the two anglers found in their ice shanty on Green Bay could have easily been fatalities had it not been for the timely work of Warden Mike Neal."

Last Saturday evening, Neal responded to a 911 call on Green Bay in Door County where two Illinois fishermen were found unresponsive in their heated shanty. Neal immediately began chest compressions on one man while the other man was attended to by a local fishing guide, who also is a retired fire chief and trained emergency medical technician. As soon as each man responded with weak pulses, Neal quickly cleared the back of his truck, and drove the men to shore for transport by ambulance to the Sturgeon Bay Hospital.

"It was so cold, and they button those shanties up so tight," Neal told the Green Bay Press Gazette about the 6 p.m. rescue near the Town of Gardner. The anglers had used propane lanterns and possibly a single-burner stove to heat their ice shanty, and the two vents had been taped shut.

Schaller says this near-death incident serves as a safety wake-up call to all anglers heading to Lake Winnebago and the Upriver Lakes for the 2011 sturgeon spearing season starting February 12.

"While conditions are favorable for an excellent season, several minutes spent reviewing safety tips and exercising common sense should be part of your prep," Schaller said. "First thing to check? Ice thickness. Know the conditions before you go.

"Local authorities and bait shops likely will know the thickness of the ice," he said. "And remember the ice is thicker at the shore and thins as you go out, so keep checking that thickness with an ice auger."

Other safety tips to practice, Schaller says, include:

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller (608) 267-2774

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

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