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Danger on the Ice!


Living in New England, many of us know the joy of ice skating and ice fishing. Some of us also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on the region’s ponds and lakes.

Well, it may be time to rethink these activities – or at least be better prepared for thin ice.

According to climate scientists, drowning deaths are rising exponentially in areas with warmer winters.

Connecticut is in one of those areas.

In a recently published study, these scientists found a big jump in reported cold water drownings when the air temperature was between 23- and 32-degrees Fahrenheit.

The study found that children under the age of 9 and teenagers and adults between 15 and 39 were the most vulnerable to winter drowning accidents.

The lack of sustained periods of cold is the culprit. Every time ice thaws and refreezes, it weakens – and can remain weaker for long periods.

What to watch for…

Experts warn that any ice with slushy spots, sitting water, or holes is unsafe.

What about snow-covered ice?

That, too, comes with significant risks.

First – snow cover makes it hard to gauge ice depth. Snow also acts as an insulator from cold air and can actually weaken ice by causing ice layers to melt.

Tips for staying safe if you choose to venture out on a frozen lake or pond this winter:

  • White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice.

  • Temperature, snow cover, currents, and springs all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

  • If the ice is UNDER 4″ – STAY OFF. At 4″ – ice fishing or other activities on foot are generally safe. A depth of 5″ – 7″ is necessary before one can use a snowmobile or ATV. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice. One can check ice depth using a cordless drill with a wood auger. Always check the actual depth of the ice on a pond or lake using a measuring tape.

  • New ice is typically stronger than older ice. As time passes, the bond between ice crystals decays, even in very cold temperatures.

  • Ice that forms over moving water is almost always weaker, especially where there is a stronger current.

  • If there are too many people congregated in one area, it can drastically increase the chances of the ice breaking. Don’t get too close together, especially where there is already an ice hole.

  • Whatever activity you choose, take a buddy. And keep a close eye on your dog to keep it safe as well.

If you or a loved one are ever injured in an accident through the fault of another in Connecticut, know that the Connecticut injury lawyers at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting people like you who’ve been injured in these accidents for over 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever injured in an accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation.

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