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Skating on thin ice?

It's that time of year when lake activities mean going out on the ice. As usual, we have had warm days and cold days and a mix of snow, sleet, and rain. I see people and vehicles out on the lakes. How do you know when the ice is safe? The above chart shows the thickness required for safety with various activities.

The Maine Warden Service offer these tips for ice safety:

  • Never guess the thickness of the ice - check it! Check the ice in several different places using an auger or some other means to make a test hole and determine the thickness. lake several, beginning at the shore, and continuing as you go out.

  • Check the ice with a partner, so if something does happen, someone is there to help you. If you are doing it alone, wear a life jacket.

  • If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off! Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.

  • Avoid areas with currents, around bridges and pressure ridges. Wind and currents can break ice.

  • Parents should alert children of unsafe ice in their area, and make sure that they stay off the ice. If they insist on using their new skates, suggest an indoor skating rink. If you break through the ice, remember:

  1. Don't panic

  2. Don't try to climb out immediately - you will probably break the ice again. Reach for solid ice.

  3. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice.

  4. Once on the ice, roll, DON'T WALK, to safety.

  5. To help someone who has fallen through the ice, lie down flat and reach with a branch, plank or rope or form a human chain. Don't stand. After securing the victim, wiggle backwards to the solid ice.

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