There are many factors that influence the strength and safety of ice. These include water depth, fluctuation in water level and rapid fluctuations in air temperature. Consider taking an ice safety and rescue course if you plan on spending considerable time on frozen water bodies. In the meantime, here are some things you should look for to ensure your ice fishing trip is safe and fun.
- Look for clear blue ice. It’s the strongest. 10 cm of clear blue ice is needed to walk on. White ice is roughly half as strong as clear blue ice.
- Wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
- Assess ice thickness. Drill test holes with your ice auger at numerous locations. Don’t rely on information from a single test hole.
- Wear highly visible exterior layers of clothing and dress appropriately for conditions (warm base layers, wind and waterproof outer layers, toque, mittens and warm, waterproof footwear).
- Carry a whistle to alert others.
- Know your vehicle. A snowmobile (less than 500 kg) needs at least 18 cm of clear, good quality ice. A light truck (gross vehicle weight (GVW) less than 5,000 kg) needs at least 38 cm of ice. Vehicle speeds should not exceed 25 km/h.
- Observe thin ice signs. Stay back from open water at aerated sites (or any water body). These areas can have much thinner ice than the rest of the lake.
- Stay away from springs and streams entering or leaving lakes.
- Kick up and out with your legs if you break through. Roll or crawl away from the open water to distribute your weight.
- Carry ice picks for self-rescue and know how to use them.
- Keep a rope or throw bag handy to rescue others if they fall in.