“Every winter, thousands of Hoosiers enjoy fishing, skating, hiking or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And every year, people drown after falling through ice,” points out Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Lt. Bill Browne.
As ice begins to form on many waterways, IDNR Indiana Conservation Officers want citizens to put safety first.
Here are a few tips to remember before going onto a frozen lake or pond:
• No ice is safe ice.
• At least 4 inches of ice is recommended for safe ice fishing; 5 inches for snowmobiling.
• If you don’t know, don’t go.
• Wear life jackets or flotation coats.
• Carry ice hooks and rope gear.
Depending on conditions, ice can change from several inches thick to nearly open water within just a few feet. Flowing water, such as rivers and streams, should be avoided when covered by a layer of ice. Water surrounded by sand often freezes with inconsistencies.
Wind, waterfowl and beavers can also keep areas of ice thin.
Parents are strongly encouraged to closely supervise all activities in which their children participate on frozen waterways.
Browne advises, “When participating in any recreational activity on ice, partnering up is a must. This includes ice fishing.”
A fall into icy water can quickly result in the onset of hypothermia for the victim, which can lead to catastrophic consequences if not treated immediately.
He recommends, “If you see a person fall through the ice, call 911 immediately with clear and concise instructions on the location of the victim. Attempts to rescue a victim should begin only after calling 911. Going into the water after the victim should be the last option in a rescue effort.”