It has been a very cold winter in Connecticut… one of the coldest on record. With all this cold and snow, many are taking to the region’s lakes to ice fish, skate, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and snowmobile.
Did you know that falling into icy water can lead to loss of consciousness and death within 15-30 minutes if you are not quickly rescued?
Knowing how to stay safe on the ice is really important. Here are a few things to consider…
- Remember – any time you go out on the ice, there is risk involved.
- Never go out on the ice alone.
- Let others onshore know of your plans so that help can find you if there is a problem.
- Ice thickness is NEVER consistent. Shallows, marshy areas, areas with moving water, and inlets are just some of the areas that often present much thinner ice.
- If you can – drill test holes to gauge ice thickness before venturing far from shore.
- When it comes to lake and pond ice, appearances can be deceiving. Darker areas often indicate thinner ice. Cracks and slushy areas should be avoided.
- Ice at the edge of a body of water is often weaker than ice over open water… particularly during warmer periods like late winter.
- Submerged objects can actually weaken the ice around them.
- Many think the presence of snow guarantees thick ice. Actually, in some cases, snow serves as an insulator – preventing thickening of the ice.
- When walking on the ice with a buddy – always walk with some separation between you and your friend so that if the ice breaks, you don’t both fall in.
- If you have any doubts about ice depth – wear a life preserver. A flotation device could save your life.
- Consider carrying a few survival tools like a cell phone, lighter, pocket knife, and a whistle.
- If you like walking your dog on the ice, keep them on a tether or leash so that you can keep them away from unsafe areas.
What if you do fall in? Here are a few tips:
- First and foremost – stay calm. Thrashing about actually causes more rapid heat loss.
- Call for help – or if you remembered a whistle – blow it long and hard.
- As you get older, your body will stiffen and lose strength. Make a move to pull yourself out of the water as soon as possible after falling in.
- If you make it out – slide forward on your stomach to distribute your weight over a wider area. Do not stand until you are completely certain of the thickness of the ice.
Wintertime can bring many enjoyable outdoor adventures. By following a few simple safety rules, you can make sure you and your family avoid injury.