Know your ice; Be safe!
Utah Lake continues to attract people to her shores – whether spring, fall, summer, or winter. Just last week, we discussed the impact of warmer weather during the winter. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve had some colder weather move in, making us hopeful that we might see the lake freeze soon. The goal for winter activities is SAFETY. Weather can change Utah Lake in a short time. It can freeze over, or the wind can blow and cause ice “castles.”
Following are some guidelines and directions for being safe on the ice.
Ice safety tips
- Be aware of the ice conditions before venturing onto the ice. Clear ice is capable of holding more weight than cloudy ice. Clear ice is stronger than white (bubble filled) ice. Four inches of clear ice will support 2000 pounds in a 30’ by 30’ space. It takes 8 inches of white ice to do the same thing. There should be a minimum of 4 inches of good clear ice before walking out onto the lake, and at least 6 or more inches for other equipment.
- This is only provided as a general rule, many factors influence ice conditions, and ice conditions are not uniform around the lake. Some areas may have plenty of ice, and others very little. For this reason, it is not advisable to venture onto the ice until at least 6 inches or even more is present.
- Dress warm. It can be extremely cold, particularly when the wind blows.
- Always check ice thickness before going out onto the ice, particularly early and late in the ice fishing season when ice is either forming or deteriorating.
- Late in the season (March-April) is particularly dangerous as the ice deteriorates. The ice may still be relatively thick, but may not hold as much weight as it is breaking down.
- Fish with a partner. If you go through the ice, it is very difficult to get yourself out of the water without help.
- Avoid having large groups of people and equipment in a small area.
- Never venture out onto partial ice conditions. Large sheets of ice can break away leaving you stranded.
- Avoid the mouths of streams and underwater springs that can create dangerous ice conditions.
- Carry some safety equipment such as ice awls (picks) for pulling yourself out of the water, and some rope to pull others out. It is also a good idea to wear a life vest under your clothing.
- Be very careful if you attempt to rescue a person who has gone through the ice. Many would be rescuers become victims as well. Use a rope or long pole to attempt the rescue from safe ice or from the shoreline.
Other safety precautions depend on your activities on the lake: Ice Fishing or ice skating, etc..
There are also some unique weather formations and scenery when the wind blows the ice.
Let’s cross our fingers for ice soon!
Remember safety in every winter activity.
Feature photo courtesy of Utah’s Present History and additional photo courtesy of Kelly Anderson, 2010
Information from Utah Division of Wildlife (http://wildlife.utah.gov/, ) Blog (http://www.crockettclan.org/running/utahlake.html) and WikiHow (http://www.wikihow.com/Know-When-Ice-is-Safe)