It’s November and boating season is over. Sad to see it leave us, however, it’s now time to begin thinking about all those winter activities on the lakes. Before you know it, the lakes will be freezing and we will be thinking about fishing, ice skating, snowshoeing, Cross country skiing, and of course snowmobiling. 

Before we get out on the ice we should take the proper precautions and be safe. Below are some precautions before and during your adventures on the frozen lake.

* It is not advisable to drive vehicles onto the ice. 

* Always go out with another person. Never go out alone.

* Carefully assess the ice condition and thickness before venturing out on the ice by using an ice chisel or an auger. The ice will not be uniform, so continue to test the ice as you go out further. Test the ice – never assume the ice is safe!

* Remember thick ice is not always safe ice. It can be thick but not always strong due to varying weather conditions, such as thawing and refreezing.

* Be especially careful of areas which a current, such as inlets, outlets, and spring holes, where the ice can be dangerously thin.

* Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy. Don’t go on the ice if there is a thaw.

* Be aware of thin, clear, or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots.

* Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker.

* Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents, and wave action that weakens ice.

* Don’t gather in large groups or drive large vehicles onto the ice.

* If you do break through the ice, don’t panic. Move or swim back to where you fell in, where you know the ice was solid. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. Carry a set of ice picks;    they can help you pull yourself out if you do fall through the ice; wear them around your neck or put them in an easily accessible pocket. Once out of the water, roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice.

* If you are a snowmobiler, don’t assume a trail is safe just because it exists. Reach out to snowmobile clubs and others who snowmobile in the area. Do your research first.

* Don’t build a fire on the ice. 

* Bring blankets and a first aid kit.

* Never go on ice that you know nothing about. 

Ice Thickness “rule of thumb”:

* The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab in Hanover, NH offers: there should be a minimum of six inches of hard ice before individual foot travel, and eight to ten inches of hard ice for snow machine or All-Terrain Vehicle travel.

            * 4 inches – 200 pounds

            * 5 inches –  800 pounds 

            * 7 inches – 1,500 pounds

            * 8 inches – 2,000 pounds

Hope everyone enjoys all of the activities the lake in the winter has to offer. Have fun out there and most importantly, Be Safe!