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Winter ice safety

fishing, harbor patrol, safety

Winter recreation is a great time of year. We enjoy ice fishing, sledding, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing to name a few.  I felt it was appropriate to talk about ice safety.

Ice on ponds, rivers, and lakes can be affected by many things. The strength and the thickness of the ice must be known before any activity by you or a family member takes place on it. Safety is of paramount importance. 

The rule of thumb for ice safety is as follows: 

  • 2 inches of new clear ice is ok for walking on.
  • 4 inches of new clear ice is ok to spend time fishing on.
  • 5 inches of new clear ice is ok to snowmobile on.
  • 8-13 inches of new clear ice is ok to drive a vehicle on.


Slush is a danger sign. It indicates that the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and indicates it is weak and or deteriorating.

Temperatures, precipitation (snow, sleet, rain) are all factors that affect the strength of the ice. 

Never check the ice alone or try to rescue a victim of an ice failure. Why?  Because you could end up going from rescuer to victim very quickly. If you fall through the ice, try to climb out toward the direct you came from. You know the ice was strong up to that point.

In closing, be aware that ice thickness and strength can vary from location to location. By following the few safety tips you can be safer and enjoy the many winter activities in our great outdoors.


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