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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ice Safety Tips

Every winter numerous outdoor sports enthusiast die of ice-related incidents, and countless others fall through the ice and have a close brush with death.

The LIFESAVING SOCIETY recommends these Ice Smart Safety Tips:

Use designated ice surfaces.
Many communities have designated ponds for activities such as skating that are maintained by knowledgeable personnel. Designated ice should be regularly tested to ensure that it is thick enough and strong enough for recreational use.

Measure ice thickness in several locations.
Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. Consult knowledgeable local individuals. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use. The recommended minimum ice thickness for new clear hard ice is:

3" (7cm) or less STAY OFF
4" (10cm) ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing
5" (12cm) one snowmobile or ATV
8"-12" (20-30cm) one car or small pickup
12"-15" (30-38cm) one medium truck (pickup or van)

Avoid traveling on ice at night.

At night it is very difficult to see open holes in the ice. This is a frequent cause of snowmobile drownings.

Never go onto ice alone.
A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and expected time of return.

Stay off river ice.

River currents can quickly change ice thickness over night or between different parts of the river.

Take safety equipment with you.
Include ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit in your pocket, which includes a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and a cell phone.

Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol impairs your judgment and speeds up the development of hypothermia.