Last week’s cold snap covered many lakes and ponds in ice, but with the warming temperatures this week, the Maine Warden Service is urging people to use caution before venturing out onto any ice covering Maine’s waterways.
Many of Maine’s lakes and ponds only have a thin ice cover, and ice conditions vary greatly throughout the state. While ice conditions may be safe in some spots, it can be very dangerous in others. The Maine Warden Service is recommending that people check the thickness of any ice before venturing out for any activity on frozen water.
If you must go on the ice, the Maine Warden Service offers 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. Make several test holes, 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 lifejacket.
• 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:
• Don’t panic.
• Don’t try to climb out immediately — you will probably break the ice again. Reach for solid ice.
• Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. Once on the ice, roll – don’t walk! — to safety.
• 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 backward to the solid ice.