As temperatures drop, some individuals may be eager to get out on the ice but rescue personnel say we’re still a few weeks out before the lake freezes over.
According to the U.S Coast Guard station in Burlington, it’s been a quiet winter on freezing Lake Champlain but Petty Officer Nills Selander says activity should pick up in the coming weeks.
“Late January and February is the peak months for ice fisherman and ice season.” Selander reminds all who enjoy the ice season to remember an important rule. “If you fall through the ice, you have ten minutes of meaningful movement where you start losing feeling in your extremities, and one hour of consciousness.”
Before going out onto the ice, Selander says to bring two very important items: a life jacket or an ice pick. He also recommends wearing the right layers and bright colors and telling someone your plans.
Members from the Colchester Technical Rescue also say it’s essential to check the ice conditions as well.
“Clear ice is our strongest ice, four inches is the minimum we recommend for anybody to go out and travel out onto the ice,” said Emily Fiztpatrick.
Anthony Pellegrino of Colchester says he’s no stranger to the ice, be it ‘Airport Park’ in Colchester or Malletts Bay and echoed similar safety advice.
“You always want to be worried about layers of course. When you’re a lot more exposed. That’s why I cover my mouth area, my hats, my gloves, jackets — all that good stuff,” said Pellegrino.
“You always want to be mindful and always go with a buddy because if something happens, you want to have someone to help you out.”
For those wanting to get out on the ice sooner, the Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront has made several free outdoor rinks. Outreach Manager Diana Wood says the city does this every year as it’s easier to maintain and freezes faster than Lake Champlain or bigger bodies of water.