Media Archive

Maine Warden Service urges you to check the ice before heading out on the ice

Article from Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Wednesday, January 04, 2006

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Despite colder temperatures, ice conditions still vary throughout the state, and are even dangerous in some areas. Rain and snow over the past ten days have combined to make ice conditions unpredictable, and currently the Maine Warden Service is recommending that people check the thickness of any ice before venturing out for any activity on frozen water.

ďIce conditions are unpredictable this time of year, and before you head out on the ice, you need to check in several places to make sure that it is safe,Ē said Colonel Tom Santaguida, Chief of the Maine Warden Service.

Ice conditions vary even on the same pond or lake, depending on the location of streams and underground springs which can wear away ice. Snow can also weigh ice down, creating a slushy quagmire. Rains raise water levels within a lake, making shoreline ice unsafe. Snow can also conceal thin ice - just because there is snow on the ice does not mean that it is safe. Larger, deeper lakes also take longer to freeze due to the large amount of water that must cool down, and wind conditions which prevent lakes from freezing.

Follow these tips for ice safety this season:

Never guess the thickness of the ice - Check it! Check the ice in several different places using an auger or some other means to make a test hole and determine the thickness. Make several, beginning at the shore, and continuing as you go out.

∑ Check the ice with a partner, so if something does happen, someone is there to help you. If you are doing it alone, wear a lifejacket.

If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off! Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.

Avoid areas with currents, around bridges and pressure ridges. Wind and currents can break ice.

Parents should alert children of unsafe ice in their area, and make sure that they stay off the ice. If they insist on using their new skates, suggest an indoor skating rink.

If you break through the ice, remember:

Donít panic

Donít try to climb out immediately - you will probably break the ice again. Reach for solid ice.

Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. Once on the ice, roll, DONíT WALK, to safety.

To help someone who has fallen through the ice, lie down flat and reach with a branch, plank or rope or form a human chain. Donít stand. After securing the victim, wiggle backwards to the solid ice.

(Press release)

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.