Firefighters give safety tips after girl dies in snow fort collapse

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A 12-year-old Elk Grove Village girl dies as a day of fun in the snow turns tragic. Her snow fort collapsed on her, trapping the girl and her 9-year-old friend beneath the heavy load.

Some area firefighters are sharing tips about how unsafe situations when enjoying the snow.

What can start out as a fun day of playing in the snow can quickly take a dangerous turn if you aren't careful, according to paramedics.

"If it's over a foot, you're unable to self-rescue at all. There's no quick fix solution to being trapped in something that you can't self-rescue in," Rockford firefighter paramedic Matt Renfro.

"This is the light stuff. It's the stuff I'm talking about - the heavy stuff - that weighs 20 pounds," said Renfro.

Knowing the dangers before heading out, could make all the difference. Rockford firefighter paramedic Matt Renfro says it's even important to be aware of the type of snow you're dealing with.

"Some of the biggest snow banks tend to be where the plows plow. That's some of the worst snow you can do it on. There's salt mixed in there."

That salt - according to Renfro - breaks up the snow which could seem like a good thing, but actually makes it more likely to collapse.

The Beloit Fire Department's technical rescue team helps with situations these situations.

If we find ourselves - or a friend - trapped, our first priority should be to find a way for them to breathe.

"Make some room to breathe so you have some room to breathe," said Beloit Fire Assistant Fire Chief Caniel Pease.

If you are on the outside, avoid using tools to dig someone out.

"We don't want to use any shovel or anything or tools because we don't want to hurt anyone, so we'll be doing most of the digging with our hands."

Your best option is to not rely on the snow alone to hold itself up.

"It would be best to have a solid structure underneath."

One of the biggest dangers when people are trapped is that, even when they clear space for them to breathe, that space may get filled with the carbon dioxide they exhale, which makes the air unsafe.

That's why, even when we have that hole to breathe, timing is everything.

A 9-year-old was also injured along with the 12-year-old in Elk Grove Village, is being treated for hypothermia. She is expected to be okay.