Warm-up in forecast could weaken ice conditions
MADISON -- With temperatures forecast to reach into the 40-degree range this weekend, state conservation wardens are cautioning people interested in venturing on to our frozen lakes and rivers that due to the early season snowfall many lakes have...
MADISON - With temperatures forecast to reach into the 40-degree range this weekend, state conservation wardens are cautioning people interested in venturing on to our frozen lakes and rivers that due to the early season snowfall many lakes have not had enough time to form thick, safe ice for winter fun.
"In all likelihood, the ice looks thicker - and safer -- than it actually is," said Todd Schaller, chief warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "The best advice to follow is no matter what the month, consider all ice unpredictable. There can be cracks and changes in the thickness that you may not be able to see. This is especially true after we have the first cold nights and the early ice is spotted statewide."
Schaller says ice thickness may vary or snow cover may hide weak or honeycomb ice and water pockets. "Let's make sure your first outing isn't your last. And take the time to educate your children about the dangers associated with frozen ponds, lakes and rivers."
Here are tips for staying safe this season:
- Always remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
- Fish or walk with a friend. It's safer and more fun.
- Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.
- Carry a cell phone, and let people know where you are going and when you'll return home.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a life jacket or a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss.
- Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice.
- Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas.
- Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself - or others - out of the ice.
- Do not travel in unfamiliar areas -- or at night.
- Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents that can thin the ice.
- Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water.
- Take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
"At DNR, we want you to be safe enjoying the outdoors. Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice related accidents," Schaller said. "That includes checking ice conditions and preparing oneself before venturing out. One rule of thumb remains the same. Treat all ice as unsafe."
For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "ice safety."