Better ‘safe’ than ‘sorry’ when it comes to ice safety
With this winter’s late start, ice hasn’t shaped up as fast as many of us would like. This has caused people to push the issue a bit on ice safety – an unwise choice can quickly get you into trouble!
Every year people push the limits a bit too early and end up breaking through the ice. First it’s guys walking on less than 2 inches of ice, then it’s ATVs driving on less than 4, next we have cars on less than 8, and trucks on less than 12 inches. Then we see big one-ton pickups barreling across the lake pulling their double-axle wheelhouses on just a foot of ice.
I’m seeing more people pushing the limits and following the calendar instead of actual ice conditions. Late last week, I observed a Suburban pulling a wheelhouse. They stuck near the shoreline and took it slow, but ended up driving right over a creek that flows out of the lake. I was too far away to stop them. Luckily this year, the flow is low and they didn’t crash through, but they should have avoided the area. By trying to be safe they put themselves in more danger. Learn the lake before you wander around.
The old saying, “Ice is never 100 percent safe” holds a lot of truth. Ice will only hold so much weight and then it will fail. Don’t push it!
Then we have the guys telling everyone they can walk on 2 inches of ice and drive on 10 inches. That is up to each individual to decide for themselves. Don’t push others into questionable situations. The standards exist, so follow them and stay safe!
Some people will never set foot on ice, and that’s their choice. I take the proper precautions, follow the guidelines, and enjoy my fishing. It may not be 100 percent safe, but neither is driving to the grocery store or walking around the mall. There’s some risk in everything we do, but when you pay attention and take proper precautions, you can eliminate most of that risk.
Always check ice conditions for yourself. Ice thickness can vary especially if you have snow cover. Check ice thickness both in the snow drifts and out and compare the differences. Have something that allows you to accurately read ice thickness; it’s not something you want to estimate.
When driving on ice, avoid snow drifts because they can conceal problem areas such as cracks and/or slush pockets.
Do not park vehicles side by side on the ice at public accesses! If you don’t think the ice is safe enough to drive to your fishing spot, then it probably isn’t safe to leave your truck parked where others will end up parking next to you. Keep your truck on shore and walk the extra hundred steps. You’ll burn a few extra calories and maybe save thousands of dollars in recovery fees.
Please be safe out there and good luck fishing!