Do you know how to stay safe on the ice during winter activities?

Ice forms around a warning sign so that ice fishermen do not leave permanent ice shacks on the pond on Wednesday January 5, 2022, at 40th Street Pond in William P Park Thompson.

As residents venture outside to enjoy winter sports like ice fishing and snowmobiling, officials share tips to help them stay safe while venturing out on the ice.

Ice cover will most likely continue to grow throughout the week in southeast Michigan as temperatures are expected to remain mostly below freezing, Jim Francis, Michigan Department’s Lake Erie Basin Coordinator, said on Monday. of Natural Resources Fisheries.

Francis said the weather conditions should create good ice cover for winter recreation, such as ice fishing. He said he observed several ice fishermen on small canals and rivers in the Lake St. Clair basin as early as last weekend.

However, ice cover can vary greatly from one body of water to another, depending on its depth and size. Fast-moving streams and rivers freeze more slowly than a still pond, and snow can slow down the ice cover by acting as an insulating layer, he said.

People ice fishing and participating in other recreational activities should always exercise caution. Francis recommended using tools such as a spud to check ice thickness and weak spots. A spud is a long rod with a chisel-shaped end that is used to punch a hole through ice.

Ice cover across Michigan is expected to be about average this winter, based on the long-term forecast for January. That forecast can always change based on changes in weather conditions, with variability across Michigan, said Randy Claramunt, Lake Huron Basin Coordinator for the Michigan Department of Fisheries and Natural Resources.

Claramunt said ice cover across Michigan and the Great Lakes has declined over the past 15 years due to climate change, which has impacted opportunities for ice fishing and other winter activities.

Ice forms on the water surface on Wednesday January 5, 2022 at 40th Street Pond in William P. Thompson Park.

Ice forms on the water surface on Wednesday January 5, 2022 at 40th Street Pond in William P. Thompson Park.

How to stay safe on the ice

St. Clair County Sheriff Mat King said at least four inches of clear ice is recommended for walking, ice fishing and ice skating. For small vehicles such as snowmobiles or ATVs, at least five to six inches of clear ice is recommended.

If you do venture out onto the ice, be sure to let someone know where you are going, when you are leaving and when you plan to return, he said. Never venture out on the ice alone.

Look for any type of slush or softness in the ice. Be aware of changes in wind and weather conditions. Check the weather forecast for your time on the ice and for the 48 hours before going out to look for warming patterns.

“Don’t assume it’s good because it was good yesterday,” King said.

If you ever have any doubts about the safety of the ice, don’t step on it, he said.

“If you have any doubts about the safety of the ice, don’t try,” King said. It’s not worth it. People are dying there. “

If you do fall through ice, follow these safety tips:

  • Don’t panic and stay calm. Panic can cause you to struggle and inhale water.

  • Turn in the water towards the direction you came from; it is probably the strongest ice.

  • Kick your body out of the water.

  • Lie down on the ice to distribute your body weight and avoid falling through the ice.

  • Seek medical attention immediately. Once out of the water, you are always in danger of hypothermia.

  • Go to a warm place and immediately take off your wet clothes. Wet clothing can cause hypothermia.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

Ice fishing

Ice fishing

This article originally appeared in the Port Huron Times Herald: How to Stay Safe on the Ice This Winter

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Richard V. Johnson