You are always on ‘thin ice’

Indiana Conservation Officers are advising citizens across the Wabash Valley of the potential hazards of being on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams this winter.

Recent temperatures and rain in the Wabash Valley have severely weakened the ice. The strength of the ice can no longer be judged by the thickness due to the rain and warmer temperatures thawing and refreezing. This is sometimes referred to as “Rotten Ice” and can be very unsafe.

Indiana Conservation Officers ask everyone to be vigilant and keep a watchful eye on neighborhood retention ponds, lakes and other waterways for those who may venture out and find themselves in trouble. Ice conditions are not the same as they were just a few days ago.

Every winter, thousands of Hoosiers enjoy fishing, skating, hiking, or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And every year, people drown after falling through ice. Like driving on snow, Hoosiers need to re-learn how to have safe fun on ice.

Conservation Officers want citizens to put safety first. Here are a few tips to remember when considering standing on or walking on a frozen lake or pond:

  1. No ice is safe ice
  2. Test the thickness of the ice with an ice auger.  At least 4 inches of ice is recommended for ice fishing; 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiling
  3. If you don’t know….don’t go
  4. Wear life jackets or flotation coats!
  5. Carry ice hooks and rope gear
  6. When on the ice, leave a note with a friend or family member of your whereabouts
  7. Don’t test the thickness of the ice while alone

Indiana Conservation Officers say the best rule of thumb is, when walking on ice, to believe they are “walking on thin ice.” “Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on the ice. If you were to fall through, a life jacket will keep your head above the water until help arrives.” “Ice is beginning to form on smaller bodies of water. I would like to ask that the community keep a close eye out for children in your area who may play on the ice. It takes extreme low temperatures and quite some time to form several inches of ice. We have not had those conditions in the Wabash Valley this winter.” says, Indiana Conservation Officer, Max Winchell.

Some bodies of water will appear to be frozen solid but actually can have thin ice in several unsuspecting areas. Flowing water, such as rivers and streams, should be avoided when covered by a layer of ice. Water that is surrounded by sand, many times freezes with inconsistencies.

Underground springs, wind, waterfowl and other animals can also keep areas of ice thin.