Some Cold Facts About Ice
- New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.
- Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.
- Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.
- The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.
- Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.
- Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.
- It takes at least 5 to 7 days of temperatures in the low 20’s before ice may become safe.
- Ice Safety Programs: May be available through your local city or town public safety office or fire department.
- Remember: Safe Ice is found at my local Ice Rink. Safe outdoor skating must have adult supervision.
The following rules should be followed to ensure ice safety:
- Never assume the ice is safe.
- The only safe ice is at a rink.
- Never skate on an untested lake or pond.
- The ice should have a minimum of at least  inches.
- Never skate alone.
- Only skate during the day or if an area is illuminated
- Know the body of water, nearby street, and where the nearest location is to go for help.
- Never use ice for a shortcut.
- Never go out onto the ice after an animal or toy.
With respect to the ice strength, a point of great importance to skaters and others is that you cannot tell the strength of the ice simply by its looks and thickness, the daily temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. The strength of ice is determined by several factors:
- Chemistry of the water (Salt or Fresh)
- Local climatic factors such as wind, snow, rain, and temperature fluctuations which can vary considerably from day to day
- The presence of currents such as at stream inflows/outflows, and along streams or rivers
- The presence of springs and the size and depth of the lake or pond
- The distribution of the weight or load placed on the ice
- The signs of expansion cracks
What to do when someone has fallen through the ice:
- Do not attempt to rescue the victim. If the ice could not support their weight, it will not support your weight.
- Try to calm and reassure the victim and have them stay afloat.
- Go to nearby location and call 911 for help. Also wait for emergency responders to bring them to the exact location of the victim.
- If with a responsible adult, have the adult return to try and assist the victim from shore.
- First, is to provide victim with something to help them stay afloat such as plastic milk or soda bottles, or a spare tire.
- If the victim is stable and afloat try to send something to reach and retrieve victim such as a rope, extension cord, ladder, branch, boat or tying clothes together.
- If victim is retrieved to shore, take steps to keep victim warm [ change clothes, wrap in blanket ] until rescue personnel arrive.