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Avoiding The Dangers of Frozen Lakes And Ponds

People who like to ice fish have been able to start enjoying the frozen lakes and ponds in our area this week. But with temperatures rising over the next couple days, the danger of falling through the ice also increases.

Every year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responds to rescues involving people falling through the ice. But knowing how to check to see if the ice is good, could prevent you from falling in.

Jason Roberts, a DNR Warden, took CBS 58 to Pleasant Lake in Walworth County for a look at the conditions.

The lake was frozen over, but still Roberts said, you should still never go too far from shore. And never go alone.

Those who plan to go on the frozen water should have the right equipment to check the thickness of the ice.

“A lot of people drill test holes. Where they basically walk out from shore, drill with their auger to check the approximate thickness of the ice,” Roberts said.

“They also utilize spud bars, which allows your chip into the ice, to give you an indication as to what the thickness is. Periodically check yourself as you walk out from shore,” he explained.

Avoid places like rivers, or lakes and ponds with inlets and outlets. Any ice that forms in those areas typically isn’t thick enough because the water is moving .

For safety reasons, Roberts explained a thickness of 4 inches of solid ice is best for things like fishing or skating. That increases for snow mobiles and vehicles.

Whether if you are familiar with the ice or not, Roberts says it’s best to check in with those who have experience on the ice.

“One of the best ways to do that is stop at a local bait shop, and speak with some of the fisherman on a day to day basis. They can give you the best and update conditions on the various lakes in the area.”

Roberts says you may want to avoid ice with snow on top. The less snow the better. As cold as it is outside, the snow maybe acting as an insulator.

“Even though the temperatures are cold, if you have snow on top of thin ice, the ice doesn't get a quite form like it does on a day like today where, it's completely clear, Roberts explained.

Even if you follow all of these tips, there is still of course a chance you may fall into the water, so always use caution.

But there are things to can do and have with you to help save yourself or someone else if you do fall in.

Things like ice picks that you can wear around your neck, can be used to help pull yourself out of the water.

"If I need to use them, if I do fall in the water, I'm able to easily deploy them, they have a small spike that come out when you press down,” Roberts demonstrated. 

“Utilizing this, they basically stick in the ice. Serve as points and picks to pull yourself from the water.”

Roberts also says things like “float coats” with a floatation device inside, can keep you warm and above the water. The same goes for seat cushions that float.

Rope kits that you can toss to other should they fall in are also essential.

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