Iced Over: Safety Tips for Frozen Water

Iced Over: Safety Tips for Frozen Water
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    Brutally cold weather has caused ponds, lakes, and streams to freeze over including in areas where ice cover is uncommon. As beautiful as ice is, danger is ever present if you do not know how to handle it.


Never assume that ice is safe to cross and do take the following precautions whenever you find yourself standing upon frozen water.

1. Never travel alone. Do not cross ice without telling someone in advance of your plans. If you arrive late at your destination a rescue can be mounted, perhaps saving your life.

2. Travel side by side. When crossing ice with other people, do not follow in a single file. If there is a crack, you’re all more likely to fall in when following then you are when walking on each other’s side.

3. No heavy vehicles. You’ve seen cars and trucks on the ice, but that is not a common occurrence. This typically takes place where ice measurements are routinely taken to confirm that a heavy vehicle can make the crossing. Even a snowmobile may fall through if the ice isn’t at least eight inches thick.

4. Wear a life vest. It is good practice to wear a life vest when covering a frozen expanse. Should you fall in, you’ll remain within reach of those that can rescue you. Of course, time is of the essence — hypothermia will quickly set in.

5. Use an ice spud. Also known as a spud bar, an ice spud can help you gauge if ice is safe to cross. Ice spuds are typically six feet long and are used by fishermen. When testing ice, easy penetration is your signal that the ice is not thick enough to cross.

6. Cross clear ice. If ice is clear, then it is at its strongest. If it appears cloudy, milky or is otherwise difficult to view through, then it is too weak to hold you. Ice with a cover of snow should simply not be crossed.

7. Bring along ice picks. If you’re by yourself and fall into water, a pair of ice picks attached with a rope can help you get back on dry land. Picks should have handles on one end and a nail device on the other end.

If You Fall In

With time being of the essence, getting yourself out of water as quickly as possible is important. You stand a better chance of surviving if help comes right away as in when police, fire, and Coast Guard rescue units are notified at once.

Always dress to match the water temperature not the air temperature when setting out. Carry with you the proper equipment including a marine radio. A waterproof personal locator beacon can alert the Coast Guard and help them pinpoint your position faster.

See AlsoTop 30 Travel Tips For Safety’s Sake


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Categories: Travel Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".