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January 3, 2013

Fish and Game offers ice safety tips for winter

When the winter temperatures begin to drop, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials remind everyone to play it safe when it comes to ice safety.

Before venturing out on any frozen pond or lake to ice fish, snowmobile, ski or snowshoe, make sure all safety guidelines are followed for ice safety including the following:

Do not drive vehicles onto the ice. If on foot, assess ice safety before venturing out by using an ice chisel or auger to determine ice thickness and condition. Do this the further out as ice thickness will not be uniform all over the water body.

Use a “rule of thumb” on ice thickness: There should be a minimum of 6 inches of hard ice before individual foot travel and 8 to 10 inches of hard ice for snow machines or all-terrain vehicle travel.

Thick ice does now always mean safe ice. Ice can be thick, but not strong because of varying weather conditions.

Be especially careful of areas with current such as inlets, outlets and spring holds, where ice can be dangerously thin.

Stay off the ice along a shoreline if it is cracked or squishy. Don’t go on the ice during a thawing period.

Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots.

Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker. Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents and wave action that can weaken ice.

Don’t gather in large groups or drive large vehicles onto ice.

Ice safety is especially important for snowmobile riders. Don’t always assume a trail is safe just because it exists; find out about trail conditions before you ride.

To download an official N.H. Fish and Game ice safety brochure, “Safety on Ice — Tips for Anglers,” visit wildnh.com.

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