Lights and Siren - When in doubt, stay off the ice

When is it safe to go out on the ice? What is considered to be safe ice? There is "no safe ice," according to the U.S. Coast Guard. So when deciding if it's safe to go ice skating or ice fishing on a pond or reservoir there are several considerations to take into account.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

 

When is it safe to go out on the ice? What is considered to be safe ice?

There is "no safe ice," according to the U.S. Coast Guard. So when deciding if it's safe to go ice skating or ice fishing on a pond or reservoir there are several considerations to take into account.

First, is the ice thick enough? To safely ice skate or walk on ice, four inches of "good ice" is recommended.

Second, what is "good ice?" Generally, clear-black ice is considered to be the strongest and best ice. If the ice appears to be white, slushy or honey combed, this indicated that the ice has frozen with air in the ice. This usually occurs when the ice has thawed and refroze or possibly has been rained on which tends to weaken the ice. You will want more than four inches of this type of ice to ice skate or walk on. If you are going to drive a four-wheeler or a snowmobile on the ice then six inches of clear-black ice is recommended.

Second, what is "good ice?" Generally, clear-black ice is considered to be the strongest and best ice. If the ice appears to be white, slushy or honey combed, this indicated that the ice has frozen with air in the ice. This usually occurs when the ice has thawed and refroze or possibly has been rained on which tends to weaken the ice. You will want more than four inches of this type of ice to ice skate or walk on. If you are going to drive a four-wheeler or a snowmobile on the ice then six inches of clear-black ice is recommended.

Before going out on the ice you must check ice depth by drilling a hole into the ice with an ice auger or using a spud bar. Check the ice close to shore and always with a friend. Be sure to have ice picks, a rope, and a cell phone. Never go on ice alone. Make several test holes to ensure that the thickness is the same all over the pond or reservoir. Water currents, depth of water, snow on ice, springs and structure all have an effect on the formation of ice and the thickness of it.

February marks the middle of winter and this is the time of year when temperatures can begin to fluctuate. This rise and fall of temperatures has a great effect on the ice and begins to weaken it. This fluctuation of temperatures will only increase as we head towards spring. So, what is considered safe ice today may not be safe ice tomorrow.