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U.S. Coast Guard preps for winter rescues

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- The last few weeks have felt more like spring than winter, but it's not a cause of celebration for everyone. The U.S. Coast Guard uses days like these to train for potential search and rescue missions.

Down a ladder, and into the water.

It's not something you'd want to do in February, but for the U.S. Coast Guard, it's all part of the job.

"It's good for us, because we train in every environment," John Murphy, with the U.S. Coast Guard in Michigan City, said. "We want to be able to know what to do in different situations."

A big concern for the Coast Guard recently is the ice.

Recent temperatures have caused it to shift around; creating pack and shelf ice.

"If a cold front comes in, and there's no wind, and it settles down, you can get two to three inches in one night," Murphy said. "Then you wake up the next day, and it's gone. Or the sun comes out, and melts it all away and it shifts out."

Simulations are helpful because it allows the Coast Guard to make adjustments for real emergencies.

But acts of precaution shouldn't only be taken by emergency responders.

"The more you can help yourself, the more you're helping us," Murphy said. 

Which is why he and others are encouraging joggers, anglers and sightseers alike to be prepared near waterways.

"We try to tell people to be as educated on it as you possibly can," Murphy said.

If you do decide to venture out onto the ice, the Coast Guard reccomends you wear bright clothing, let someone know where you're going beforehand, and have a screwdriver-like tool handy in case you fall through, and have to claw your way out.

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