Ice safety tips near bodies of water in winter

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BOSTON ( – The Massachusetts State Police (MSP), Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP ) warn the public of the potential dangers of thin ice on the many lakes, ponds, streams and rivers in the state, and ask the public to be responsible and aware of local conditions, aware of possible dangers on ice and to remain diligent in following prudent on-ice safety practices.

“Many factors, including temperature fluctuations and water flow, can affect how and when ice freezes and thaws, making it unpredictable and extremely dangerous for anyone trying to walk on it or cross it,” said said DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper. “The Department of Conservation and Recreation suggests that residents exercise extreme caution when participating in outdoor recreational activities, such as ice fishing, ice skating and snowmobiling, as the Late onset of winter means that no body of water is yet sufficiently frozen to safely support such activities.”

“Many people are safe to ice fish and other outdoor activities on Massachusetts lakes and ponds in the winter, but it’s always important to take common sense precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe. your family,” DFG Commissioner Ron Amidon said. “Remember to plan ahead, bring the proper safety equipment and know the thickness and quality of the ice before venturing out, preferably with someone experienced in safety on the ice. ice.”

“Cold weather activities are a source of enjoyment for many people, but participation comes with the responsibility of recognizing the dangers posed by thin ice and taking steps to keep you and your loved ones safe,” said the Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “Our soldiers, like all New England first responders, have seen firsthand the tragic consequences that can occur when someone fails to exercise caution on frozen bodies of water. Have fun outdoors this winter, but be smart and stay safe, for your sake and that of those who love you.

If you witness a person or animal fall through the ice, call for help before attempting a rescue on your own to avoid becoming a victim yourself. Always use something long or throw something to help the victim while you wait for help from first responders. In all circumstances, individuals are asked to prioritize safety. Below and on DFG’s MassWildlife webpage, you will find ice safety tips to follow around bodies of water during the winter months:

  • Parents should always closely watch and supervise their children.
  • Never go on the ice alone.
  • Always keep pets on a leash (if an animal falls through the ice, don’t try to save it yourself, call for help instead).
  • Watch out for ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and prevent it from freezing. It also hides cracks and other weak spots.
  • Ice formed on flowing water (including subsurface springs) is generally weaker than ice on calm water.
  • Ice rarely freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick in one place and an inch thick in another.
  • If a companion falls through the ice and you can’t reach them from the shore, throw something at them (a rope, a tree branch, jumper cables from a car, etc.). If that doesn’t work, go or call for help. Obtain medical assistance for the victim immediately.
  • If you fall into it, try not to panic. Turn to the direction you came from and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward as you kick. Once the ice is strong enough to hold you down and you can step back, stay lying on the ice (don’t stand; lying down spreads your weight over a wider area, which reduces your weight in one spot ) and roll away from the hole. Crawle back, keeping your weight evenly distributed until you come back onto solid ice or the ground.
  • As the season progresses, plan accordingly and exercise caution as older ice conditions vary widely and are subject to rapid change.

Additionally, the Massachusetts State Police remind the public to call 911 in the event of an emergency, such as a person or pet falling through ice. Additionally, several state parks and facilities provide outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the winter season, some with DCR rangers and/or program staff. Please visit the DCR website for more details and MassWildlife’s Get Started Ice Fishing website for a video and information on ice safety and ice fishing.

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