Lakes can be a great place to enjoy activities on or near the ice. However, no ice is ever considered “safe,” as there’s no reliable measurement to determine whether it’s sturdy or will not break. Snow acts as an insulator and slows the freezing process; therefore, snow-covered ice should be considered unsafe because the ice underneath will be thinner and weaker.
Did you know ice weakens with age? The longer it’s been frozen, the weaker it becomes. The strongest ice is clear with a bluish hue. In contrast, the weakest ice is formed by melted and refrozen snow, appearing milky in color. Ice with slush on top should be avoided at all costs. It is only half as strong as solid, clear ice, and the slush indicates the ice is not freezing from the bottom.
Sudden cold fronts with low temperatures can cause cracks within a half-day. Warm weather can take several days to weaken ice, which causes it to thaw during the day and refreeze at night.
Be extra cautious if you see water around the shoreline but ice on the lake. The stronger the current, the more likely ice will give way to open water. Also, be on the lookout for ice with exposed logs or brush. These materials can make ice crack with the slightest amount of pressure.
Some ice safety materials to have on hand include:
- Auger or spud
- Ice pick
If you happen to fall through ice, remain calm. Do not remove your winter clothing; these heavy items won’t drag you down but provide warmth instead. The strongest ice is more than likely in the same direction you came from, so turn that way first. If you have ice picks, dig through ice while actively kicking to pull yourself up onto the surface. Slide forward on the ice and roll away from the weak area.
Remove your clothing immediately, and dress in dry, warm clothing, consuming warm water or tea as soon as possible. If you feel disoriented, have uncontrollable shivering, or any other hypothermia effects, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
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Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.