It’s not that unusual for Canadians to go out to a frozen lake in the winter, right? Get some peace and quiet, enjoy the fresh air for a bit, rest from your phone… But are you sure you know what to expect and what to do if something unexpected happens? Read on!
When going out on a lake for ice fishing, skating, or even snowmobiling, you should prepare yourself as much as possible to avoid going through the ice and having to deal with thin ice. Here are some dos and dont’s:
- Never go out on the ice alone. Go out with another person and keep a good distance apart as you move about. If one of you falls through, the other can attempt to get help. That person can also attempt a rescue.
- Carry some survival equipment, such as a length of rope. Carry a pair of ice picks or even a pair of screwdrivers tied together with a few feet of strong cord. You can use these to pull yourself up and onto the ice. If they have wooden handles, they will float, which is handy if you drop them in the struggle to get out of the water.
- Avoid driving on the ice if at all possible. If you must drive onto the ice, unbuckle your seatbelt and roll down the window. That way, if you go through the ice, it will be easier to get out of the vehicle.
- If snowmobiling at night, don’t outdrive your headlight. Give yourself time to spot and avoid open water, pressure ridges, and patches of weak ice.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol increases your chances for hypothermia, impairs your judgment, and slows your reaction time.
How to know if the ice is thick enough to step or drive on it?
The safety of the ice is related to its thickness. The following provides a general guide, based on solid blue lake ice. If the ice is:
- 2 inches (5 cm) thick or less, stay off the ice
- 3 inches (7.5 cm) thick, it can safely hold a single person and gear in one area
- 4 inches (10 cm) thick, it can hold a group of people in a single file line
- 7.5 inches (19 cm) thick, it can hold a light car
- 10 inches (25.4 cm) thick, it can hold a medium truck.
Watch out when you go out and if something does happen, come to our repair shops in Hamilton – we will take care of your car!