With the recent winter warmup, local water rescue teams are encouraging those who love to ice skate or fish on area lakes to use extra caution. Below, are some suggestions on what to look out for before stepping onto the ice. Tips are courtesy of PA Fish & Boat Commission’s Len Basara:
Ice Safety Tips
- When arriving at the water’s edge, anglers should visually survey the ice. Look for open water areas, and look for signs of recent changes in water levels. Ice sloping down from the bank because the water level dropped, or wet areas on the ice because the water level rose, can be an indicator of a very dangerous condition.
- Listen for loud cracks or booms coming from the ice. This can indicate deteriorating ice.
- Look for clear blue ice. New ice is stronger than old ice and usually has a blue tint.
- Remember that ice thickness is not consistent.
- Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures. Ice will not form as quickly where water is shallow or where objects may absorb sunlight.
- Angler should use an ice staff to probe ahead of them. If the ice staff punches through then the angler should retreat back to shore slowly.
- Anglers should always carry a pair of ice awls in the case that they do go through the ice so they can self-rescue.
- Never go out on ice that has formed over moving water such as a river or stream.
- Never go out on ice alone.
- Always let someone know your plans and when you expect to return.
Ice may not be the same thickness all over.
- Stay away from multiple pressure cracks on the ice.
- When ice fishing, spread out because crowds can add too much weight in the same area
- When fishing from shore, be extra careful near rivers and stream. Moving water wears ice underneath, so the ice may look thicker that it really is.
Need to know regulations
- In PA, an anglers fishing hole cannot be bigger than 10 inches
- New Regulation: Beginning November 1st until April 30th, persons are required to wear a coast guard approved type I, II, III or V PFD while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak.
More online info:
General public – FishAndBoat.com/Safety
Rescue personnel – PaWaterRescue.com