Ice safety critical for skating and fishing during winter months

LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) - Ice skating and fishing this time of year is hard to resist, but fire departments in the area want to remind people of some ice safety.

The Chief of the Verdoy Fire Department says that unless they know the pond extremely well, it’s better to air on the safe side and stay off the ice.

“Unless you’re a seasoned fisherman and you know the area very well and you grew up on it even then it can still be a little risky. We suggest don’t go on it,” said Nicholas Dinovo, Verdoy Fire Department Chief.

If you do, make sure to always first check the ice for warning signs.

“If you see ice that is sticking up, usually that means that it’s frozen and then it thawed and was frozen again; anything that just doesn’t look smooth like an ice skating rink that’s usually the worst to be on,” Dinovo said.

One big cause of people falling through the ice is going after a pet that has slipped in.

“Don’t go out there after your pet. Just let them do their thing and call 911 and we’ll get there and take care of it,” Dinovo said.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife sent out a release to the media on Monday with the following tips on staying safe on the ice. 

  • Leave your car or truck on shore.  Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice on Vermont lakes, and some people have drowned as a result.


·         Leave information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.


·         Wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.


·         Fish with a friend.  Ice fishing is a great sport to share with family members and friends, and having a partner with you increases both the fun and the safety.


  • Ice varies in thickness and condition.  Always carry an ice spud or chisel to check ice as you proceed.


  • Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs.  Current almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas.


  • Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore.  This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes. 


  • Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice.  If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!


  • Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you.


  • Carry a set of hand spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface of the ice if you go through.  Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out.  You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase them at stores that sell fishing supplies.


  • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.


  • Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.  Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.

If you have questions regarding ice fishing or ice conditions, contact your local Vermont State Game Warden via your closest state police barracks or by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife Headquarters at 802-828-1529.


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