Winter Weather: Is the Ice Safe?

Winter Resource Guide

(WPRI) — Before you head out on that lake or pond for ice skating or fishing – make sure it’s safe.

To check on the ice conditions at Goddard, Lincoln Woods and Meshanticut State Parks, call the Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management at 401-667-6222.

For other bodies of water, follow the below tips from the Rhode Island Division of Parks and Recreation

Cold temperatures aren’t enough

With respect to the ice strength, a point of great importance to patrons enjoying ice activities is that you cannot tell the strength of the ice simply by its looks and thickness, the daily temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. The strength of ice is determined by several factors such as  the chemistry of the water being salt or fresh, local climatic factors such as wind, snow, rain, and temperature fluctuations which can vary considerably from day to day, the presence of currents such as at stream inflows / outflows, and along streams or rivers, the presence of springs, then size and depth of a lake or pond, the distribution of the weight or load placed on the ice, and the signs of expansion cracks.

The following rules should be followed to ensure ice safety:      

  • Never assume the ice is safe.
  • The only safe ice is at a rink.
  • Never skate on an untested lake or pond.
  • The ice should have minimum of at least [6] inches.
  • Never skate alone.
  • Only skate during the day or if an area is illuminated.
  • Know the body of water, nearby street, and where the nearest location is to go for help.
  • Never use ice for a shortcut.
  • Never go out onto the ice after an animal or toy.

If a person falls through the ice:

  • Call 911!
  • Do not try to rescue the victim.
  • Try to calm and reassure the victim.
  • If with a responsible adult, have the adult return to try and assist the victim from shore
  • Provide victim with something to help them stay afloat such as plastic milk or soda bottles, or a spare tire.
  • If the victim is stable and afloat try to send something to reach and retrieve victim such as a rope, extension cord, ladder, branch, boat or tying clothes together.
  • If victim is retrieved to shore, take steps to keep victim warm [change clothes, wrap in blanket etc.] until rescue personnel arrive.

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