Does the ice hold?
The ice should be at least 10 centimeters thick for you to be able to stand on it. Thinner ice than that though can hold, but the risk is great because the ice has weaknesses that are difficult to detect. In addition, it is difficult to get up if you go too far out on the thin ice, and even though the ice may not look thin, the risk is still there.
The ice that is thick may also have weak areas. The ice is rarely strong everywhere on the water and the surfaces may not be even, you may be unlucky and walk on a spot where the ice is thin. Being safe on ice is important, even for the ones that are used to it. In many waters, the ice is thickening overtime. If you suspect an area where the ice looks thin, try stabbing the ice with an ice pick.
It is important to know the ice’s thin areas. But weaknesses can sometimes be difficult to see and behave unexpectedly. You must be prepared for the risk of the ice suddenly breaking underneath you. It is good to have company in case that would happen, but also have the right equipment and knowing how to use it.
Important equipment when wandering on the ice:
Life jacket, ice surviver suit and a backpack with change of clothes that are in a waterproof bag
- Rescue line in case you need to pull people up.
- Ice pick in case you need to test the ice.
- Mobile phone in waterproof case to alert the emergency if an accident happens.
Things to think of:
- Always have a company on the ice, children should always be accompanied by an adult.
- When traveling in a group or even in twos, keep a distance from that person who is walking ahead. This reduces the risk for everyone. walking on the ice to fall through it.
- High speed on ice is always a risk, hitting that thin area on ice increases by far the further out you go. Be safe and careful.
How do you know if the ice is safe?
Be suspicious of any changes on the ice surface and appearance. If you see a suspicious change in the ice, use the ice pick to test the thickness and strength of the ice. If the ice can take two hard hits with the ice pick without the hit causing any holes then the ice is thick and safe to walk on. If you hit the ice with the ice pick once, and it becomes a hole then the ice is doubtful and shouldn’t be walked on. If you see water coming up from the holes then that is a clear warning sign that the ice is too weak to walk on.
Be extra careful in common weak areas such as rivers or under bridges. Use your common sense here. Keep moving slow and try the ice regularly with the ice pick.
Be aware of how the ice looks in different areas and if the appearance changes. Darker stains are often a sign of weaker ice. But even very bright areas can be sign of thin ice. Be suspicious and safe if you see any changes. If there is snow on the ice, be extra careful because under the snow the ice can be thin and weak.
Speed on the ice
High speed increases the risks of ending up on thiner ice. It becomes harder to detect weaknesses and before you know it you can end up on thin ice way out on the water. High speed also makes the ice easier to break. There is also greater risk of injury if you go through the ice if the speed is high. A broken arm or a shoulder out of place makes it difficult to pull yourself up from the water. High speed is also a danger because if you fall you risk injuring yourself. Be safe out there.