Indiana Conservation Officers are advising citizens across the state of the potential hazards of being on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams this winter.
Recent temperature drops across the state have brought about sheets of ice across some bodies of water.
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.
Every winter, thousands of Hoosiers safely enjoy fishing, skating, hiking, or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And every year, people drown after falling through ice. Just like re-learning how to drive on snow versus clear roads, some Hoosiers need to re-learn how to safely have fun on ice.
Indiana 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:
No ice is safe ice.
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.
If you don’t know, don’t go.
Wear life jackets or flotation coats.
Carry ice hooks and rope gear.
When on the ice, leave a note with a friend or family member of your whereabouts.
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 you are “walking on thin ice.” Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on the ice. If you 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. We 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 consistently statewide this winter,” said Indiana Conservation Officer Max Winchell.
The coating of snow that Indiana just received also can make for treacherous ice conditions. The snow can insulate the ice, causing it to freeze at a slower rate. When the snow and rain that just fell across Indiana freeze into ice, it is never as strong as solid, clear ice.
If you see a pet or other animal in distress on the ice, please do not go after it. This can often end in tragedy. Contact your local emergency response personnel, who are equipped to make a rescue on thin ice.
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 may freeze with inconsistencies in the thickness of the ice.
Underground springs, wind, waterfowl and other animals can also keep areas of ice thin.