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On the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast we explore new and fun ways to get fit on the trail, on the water, on the slopes and outside. Discover the latest in health and fitness from leading experts and get tips on fun ways to get fit. We're getting outside the box, outside our comfort zone and outside and in shape.

Dec 28, 2015

Ice Thickness Safety

In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness podcast we're talking about how  to safe this winter fishing, skating and skiing on frozen lakes and ponds.

On Today’s show you’ll discover...

  • ... how to tell if the ice you’re about to go out on is safe;
  • ... what to do if you or someone in your party falls through;
  • ... and how to have a safe and fun time out on the ice this winter.

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Winter Fun on Lakes and Ponds

When the conditions are right many of the frozen lakes around here look like little cities with clusters of ice houses, cars and tons of different activities happening right out on the ice. It’s a carnival type of atmosphere and it can be a lot of fun but there are dangers too.

The Dangers of Thin Ice

[1] The CDC says that Every day, about 10 people drown in the US.  When ice is involved it’s estimated that over [2] 50 percent of drowning victims were attempting to rescue another person or an animal that fell through the ice.

If you’re going to venture out on the ice you need to know about ice thickness safety, how to tell if the ice you’re on will support you and what to do if you or someone you’re with falls through.

Assessing The Ice

There are three things that together, can help you make an assessment of ice thickness.

  1. Visual Inspection
  2. Measure It
  3. Check with local experts and resources

[3] It’s important to keep in mind that the ice may be thick in one area but thin in others. Currents and flowing water can cause ice to become very thin. Another concern is the chance of ice thawing even when under a blanket of snow. Bodies of water freeze and thaw throughout the winter and that can make the ice unstable.

Visual Inspection

  • [4] Generally if the ice is blue, clear or green that indicates that it may be safe for skating, skiing and walking and you should do further assessment.
  • If it's dark that can indicate it’s too thin and should be avoided.  
  • If the ice is white it may be weak with air or snow trapped inside.
  • Finally, look for signs of open water

Ice Thickness Guidelines

  • 3.5" - 4" or more - walking, skating, skiing, fishing
  • 7" or more - passenger car
  • 10" or more - small truck

Ice thickness Safety Guide from the Farmer's Almanac.

What to Bring for Safety

Bring a

  • friend and never go out on the ice alone.
  • SPUD
  • life jacket,
  • ice picks,
  • a cell phone and
  • a length of rope

Survival Tips if You Fall In

  • Try not to flail your arms but do keep them above water and warm if possible.
  • Don't remove your clothes, especially your boots because they may actually help to keep you floating.
  • Once back at the ice edge try hoisting yourself out by kicking hard. 

Rescue Tips

  • Call 911 ASAP
  • Throw something that may float to the person in trouble or use a long pole to extend to them.  
  • Ladders can be used so long as you don’t get on the ice yourself.  
  • Items like tree branches, garden hoses, small boats or ropes can also be used to help provide the victim with self-rescue options.
  • Never try and enter the water to rescue someone.



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