Monday, February 15, 2016

Ice Safety: Know When It's Safe to Venture Out on the Ice

With the recent stories in the news about cars sinking into Lake Geneva at a winter festival and two snowmobilers falling through the ice on Lake Geneva because they ran into open water, one of whom actually passed away, it's important to know when the ice may be safe enough to venture out on.

Typically during the winter season, frozen lakes are safe to ride a snowmobile over or go ice fishing on.  However, this winter has been fairly mild when compared to past winters and we just haven't had a long enough cold spell to keep the ice frozen and thick enough, long enough, to make it safe to travel on.

As a general rule of thumb if the ice is less than four inches thick, it's not safe to be on.  Less than two inches thick, don't even think about stepping foot on the ice.  A minimum of four inches is okay for ice fishing, five inches for riding an ATV or snowmobile.  Eight to twelve inch thick ice typically supports a small car and ice up to a foot and a half thick can support a medium sized pick up.  It's important to remember that these numbers are guidelines for minimum ice thickness and only for new, clear ice.  Many other factors other than ice thickness can affect the safety of ice.  So before you decide to head out on the ice, make sure you know just how thick the ice is and what the weather conditions have been leading up to that time.

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