“Ice is always unpredictable, and that’s particularly true during Wisconsin’s first cold snap and early in the ice fishing season,” says Todd Schaller, the Department of Natural Resources recreation safety chief.
Learn ice safety precautions, follow them -- and educate your children about the dangers associated with frozen ponds, lakes and rivers, he says.
Schaller offers these other tips for staying safe this season:
- Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.
- Do not go out alone, 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 float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss; take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
- 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 current that can thin the ice.
- Look for clear ice. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice with air bubbles in it or with snow on it.
- Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water and may be an obstruction you may hit with a car, truck or snowmobile.