When temperatures dip below freezing, it’s common for our lakes to develop a layer of ice along the top. But it’s important to remember that even if the ice looks solid, there’s no way to gauge the strength and safety from the surface.

We’ve recently heard that neighborhood kids have been playing on the ice on the retention pond on Summerfields. Make sure you’re reinforcing the dangers ice presents. Remind your kids about the dangers ice presents. Always err on the side of caution and stay off the ice.

Here are some crucial tips for staying safe on ice.

Basic Ice Safety Tips

  • Always supervise children playing near ice. Educate them on the risks ice presents and never leave children alone on or near ice-covered bodies of water.
  • Adults should prepare before going on ice. Wait to walk out onto ice until there is a minimum of four inches of clear, solid ice measured from multiple locations. Start measurements in an area where the water is shallow. If the surface area’s thickness is less than three inches, do not walk on the ice.
  • Take someone with you, wear a life jacket, and bring safety equipment, including a cell phone, in case of an emergency.
  • Always keep your pets on a leash near frozen bodies of water. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet. Call 9-1-1 or go for help.
  • Stay clear of white ice. White ice contains air and snow within it, therefore, making it weaker.
  • Stay off river ice. Currents can quickly change the thickness of ice, making it more fragile.

If You See Someone Else Falls Through Ice

  • Call 911 immediately. Local law enforcement and first responders are trained and equipped to handle cold-water rescues. It is best to let them oversee rescue efforts. Do not try to rescue someone yourself.
  • If the person is close to shore or a dock, you can try to reach them with an arm, leg or something that provides greater length, like a branch or pole. Remember to keep a firm hold on the shore or dock. If the ice did not support them, it likely would not support you.
  • If the person is further out, you may try to throw a rope, lifebuoy or even a lifejacket. Again, ensure that you remain firmly on the shore or dock and do not travel out on the ice.

If You Fall Through the Ice

  • If you fall through the ice, try to remain calm to think clearly, and react appropriately.
  • Face the direction you came from and kick your legs to push yourself toward the part of the ice you were just on.
  • Once you reach the surface, place your arms straight out on the ice to distribute your weight evenly. Gently, try to pull yourself up. If you can’t get up, staying at the surface will help you keep your head above water, protect your airway, and help rescuers see you better.
  • If you are successful in getting up onto the ice by kicking and pulling, do not try to stand on the ice. Instead, roll all the way back to shore. That spreads your body weight over a greater area, increasing your probability of safely getting to the shore.

When in doubt, remember that the safest ice tip is to stay off the ice! It’s not worth the risk.