Citizens should be aware of the potential hazards of being on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers and streams this winter, reports Max Winchell of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.
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. Like driving on snow, Hoosiers need to re-learn how to have safe fun on ice.
Conservation officers want citizens to put safety first. When considering standing on or walking on a frozen lake or pond, remember
• No ice is safe ice;
• Test the thickness of the ice with an ice auger. At least 4 inches of ice is recommended for ice fishing, and 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiling;
• If you don’t know, don’t go;
• Wear life jackets or flotation coats and carry ice hooks and rope gear;
• When on the ice, leave a note with a friend or family member of your whereabouts; and
• Don’t test the thickness of the ice while alone.
Indiana conservation officers say the best rule of thumb is “when walking on ice, believe you are walking on thin ice.
Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on the ice. If you were to fall through, a life jacket will keep your head above the water until help arrives.”
Winchell warns, “Keep a close eye out for children in your area who may play on the ice. It takes extreme low temperatures and quite some time to form several inches of ice. Snow can insulate the ice and keep ice from getting thicker.
“Some bodies of water will appear to be frozen solid but actually can have thin ice in several unsuspecting areas. Flowing water, such as rivers and streams, should be avoided when covered by a layer of ice. Water that is surrounded by sand many times freezes with inconsistencies. Underground springs, wind, waterfowl and other animals can also keep areas of ice thin.”