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Winter Ice Safety Tips

Make sure your local pond or lake is safe before venturing out onto the ice.

 

With the recent spate of days with below-freezing temperatures, New Englanders' thoughts turn to skating, ice fishing, and other frozen fun. But make sure the ice is safe before heading out.

According to the Vermont Agriculture Extension, "no ice is safe ice. ... Ice seldom freezes uniformly; ice may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two thick a few feet away." All ice should be safely examined and tested before anyone  ventures out, experts agree.

Here are some guidelines on how to know if ice is safe by looking at it, according to wikihow.com:

  • Light gray to dark black - Melting ice, occurs even if air temperature is below 32°F (0°C). Not safe, its weak density can’t hold a load, stay off.
  • White to Opaque - Water-saturated snow freezes on top of ice forming another thin ice layer. Most times it’s weak due to being porous from air pockets.
  • Blue to Clear - High density, very strong, safest ice to be on if thick enough, stay off if less than 4 inches (10 cm) thick.
  • Mottled and slushy or "rotten" ice - not so much its color but its texture. This ice is thawing and slushy. It is deceptive - it may seem thick at the top but it is rotting away at the center and base. Most prevalent in spring, may be showing signs of browns from plant tannins, dirt and other natural materials that are resurfacing from thawing. Not suitable for even a footstep.

So if you are inspired by the cold weather to head out onto the ice, definitely check it out first and don't go alone. And of course, share your ice photos with your friends and neighbors on Patch!

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