10 Things You Should Know About Ice Safety

Use designated ice surfaces

  • Many communities have designated ponds for activities such as skating that are maintained by knowledgeable personnel.
  • Designated ice should be regularly tested to ensure that it is thick enough and strong enough for recreational use. 

Measure ice thickness in several locations

  • Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. Consult knowledgeable local individuals. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use. The recommended minimum ice thickness for new clear hard ice is:
    • 7 cm (3 inches) or less - STAY OFF
    • 10 cm (4 inches) - ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing
    • 12 cm (5 inches) - one snowmobile or ATV
    • 20 - 30 cm (8 - 12 inches) - one car or small pickup truck
    • 30 - 38 cm (12 - 15 inches) - one medium truck (pickup or van)

Avoid traveling on ice at night

  • At night it is very difficult to see open holes in the ice. This is a frequent cause of snowmobile-related drownings.

Never go onto ice alone

  • A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and your expected time of return.

Stay off river ice

  • River currents can quickly change ice thickness overnight or between different parts of the river.

Wear a snowmobile flotation suit or a lifejacket

  • Wear a lifejacket or PFD over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothes to increase your survival chances if you do go through the ice.

Take safety equipment with you

  • Include ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit in your pocket, which includes a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and a cell phone.

Avoid alcohol

  • Alcohol impairs your judgment and speeds up the development of hypothermia.

If you drive on ice, have an escape plan

  • Open your windows, unlock your doors, and turn on your lights to allow you to quickly escape from your vehicle.  Devices such as the Life Hammer can assist in cutting seat belts and breaking windows in case of submersion.

Always supervise children playing on or near ice

  • Insist that they wear a lifejacket/PFD or thermal protection buoyant suit. 

Order the Ice Thickness Poster or Wallet Card.

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