Ice safety tips for walking, fishing, driving and more
- Check the ice thickness before you go on it.
- Four inches is the minimum ice thickness for walking.
- Always go with a buddy.
Ice safety before you head outside
- Get an ice update. Contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources or a local bait shop for the latest ice reports. Then, compare them to an ice thickness chart.
- Pack a pair of ice picks. Attach these to a long cord. Screwdrivers work, too. If you fall into the water, you can pull yourself out using the picks. Tip: Use a wood-handled ice pick. If it falls into the water, it will not sink as quickly as a metal-handled pick.
- Bring a life jacket. If you break through while walking on ice, a life jacket can provide flotation and protection against hypothermia. Do not wear a flotation device when traveling in an enclosed vehicle.
- Wear brightly-colored clothing. Bright colors make you easier to spot against the white snow and ice.
Tips while you’re on the ice
- Walk with a buddy. Stay several feet apart. If one person falls into the water, the other can call for help.
- Test ice thickness every 150 feet. Ice thickness can vary dramatically, even in small areas. Test the ice thickness frequently to avoid thin ice.
- Be prepared to bail. When driving on the ice, have an escape plan. Unbuckle your seat belt and roll down your window all the way for an easier escape.
- Park vehicles a safe distance apart. Vehicles should be parked at least 50 feet apart. Drill a hole near each vehicle. If water starts to flow from the hole, vehicles should be moved because it means the ice is sinking.
- Move vehicles every two hours. Moving vehicles helps to prevent undue stress on the ice.
- Check for ice aeration. Ice aeration systems keep areas of water open to provide oxygen for fish. Aeration can weaken the ice strength far beyond just the aeration location.