As winter is upon us and our favorite local lakes and ponds have frozen over and with fluctuating temperatures during the winter season, the ice on these lakes and ponds can be very unstable and unpredictable. Make sure if you do go out on the ice, you know how to carefully check ice conditions and know what to do if you fall through the ice.
- Remember you take a risk anytime you go out onto the ice.
- Ice thickness is not consistent. Water currents, particularly around narrow spots, bridges, inlet and outlets are always suspect for thin ice.
- Beware of partially submerged objects such as trees, logs, brush, embankments or dam structures.
- Don’t judge ice strictly by appearance.
- Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas that signify thinner ice.
- Be aware of ice covered with snow. Sometimes the snow serves as insulation. Other times, it has the opposite effect by insulating the surface from freezing.
- Never go out on the ice alone, always have someone there that can call for help if you fall through.
- Always keep your pet on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet. Call for help.
If you fall through the ice and cannot get out of the cold water by yourself, take the appropriate actions to extend your survival time while waiting to be rescued.
- Stay calm. Do not attempt to swim as swimming will cause your body to lose heat much faster than if you stay as still as possible.
- Use a whistle to attract help.
- Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat and move slowly back to where you entered the water. Expect a progressive decrease in your strength and ability to move.
- On thin ice, try to push yourself forward onto your stomach or roll on your side to keep the weight distributed over a greater surface area. Do not stand up until you have moved onto the ground or an area of solid ice.