Whether you're looking for a place to snowmobile, ski, ice fish, skate, or simply play hockey - you should take serious precautions before stepping a foot on a frozen lake. You may be putting yourself in serious danger if the ice sheet is too thin or cracked. The tips below will help you get a better understanding of which types of ice lakes are safe and which ones you should avoid, along with some safety precautions to consider.
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
Depending on the thickness of the ice, there may be limitations on what you can do on its surface.
2 inches thick The ice is very susceptible to breakage and is not safe to walk on.
4 inches thick It should be ok to stand, skate, and ice fish on the surface.
5 inches or greater The ice should be able to withstand most snowmobiles.
8 and 12 inches The ice should be able to withstand the weight of a small to medium sized car.
Anything above 12 inches Ice lakes with this thickness should be able to support medium sized trucks.
A Few Notes
• Clear ice is twice as strong as “snow ice”, also known as white ice, and the above measurements are only to be used with CLEAR ICE. For white or snow ice, you should double these measurements to ensure optimal safety.
• Avoid cracked ice. Cracks compromise the integrity of the ice sheets, so check for cracks before taking your next step. If you are on the ice and notice it cracking, immediately get off the ice.
Having A Safe Rescue Plan
Preparing and having a “just in case “ plan could mean the difference between life and death. No ice lake is completely impervious - ice sheets can cave in without warning. Be prepared with these tips.
• Make sure you have on all the proper attire and are bundled up. The types of material that you wear could help you float in the event that you fall through the ice. Carrying an ice pick that's easily accessible will help you get a physical grip if you start sliding, or if you are trying to get out of the water.
• Always make sure to have at least one person with you – do not go alone! If it's just you and another person, make sure you let others know where you are heading out to prior to embarking on the ice. It is also wise to provide friends with your expected return time from an excursion on an ice lake.
• Always have an extra set of clothes that are warm and thick. Keeping them in a waterproof bag can ensure that your risk of hypothermia is reduced greatly. Other things you may want in your kit include candles, matches, thick socks, foot warmers, and blankets.