With winter fast approaching, colder temperatures will soon turn our lakes, ponds and streams into a winter wonderland. Though they can provide wonderful recreational opportunities, it is important to use caution and be aware of the potential dangers that these icy conditions can bring.
Here are some important ice safety tips from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation:
- Never go onto the ice alone.
- Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue – either call or go for help.
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but it may also keep it from freezing. Snow also can hide cracks, as well as weak and open ice.
- Ice formed over flowing water (including springs under the surface) is generally weaker than ice over still water.
- Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick in one spot or an inch thick in another.
- If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw something to them (a rope, tree branch, even unplugged jumper cables from your car, etc.). If this doesn’t work, go or phone for help. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
- If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once the ice is solid enough to hold you, and you can pull yourself out, remain lying on the ice and roll away from the hole. Do not stand on the ice, as lying down spreads your weight across a wider area and minimizes the weight on a specific spot. Crawl back the way you came, keeping your weight evenly distributed, until you return to solid ice or ground.
- As the season progresses, plan accordingly and use caution, as the condition of older ice greatly varies and is subject to rapidly changing conditions.
Several DCR properties offer guided outdoor skating programs in season, please visit the website for details. For contact information for these parks, as well as information about additional winter recreation opportunities in Massachusetts state parks, visit DCR’s website.