Truckee Chief’s Corner: Follow these tips to know if the ice is safe | SierraSun.com

Truckee Chief’s Corner: Follow these tips to know if the ice is safe

Bill Seline
Chief’s Corner
This unofficial guide to ice thickness is a good qay to measure what you're up against.
Courtesy Truckee Fire |

You may have noticed that many of the lakes and ponds have been freezing on and off throughout the winter.

There is something about a frozen lake that attracts people to get a closer look or even take a walk or a skate out onto the ice. Unfortunately, every year some unwary people end up falling through the ice, which often has fatal results.

The experts tell us there that is no sure way to tell if the ice is 100% safe. The strength of the ice is based on many factors, including the age, thickness, water and air temperature, depth of the water, and currents.

Most agree that we should stay off ice if it is less than 4 inches thick. Things change quickly with ice. One day the ice can be solid and then warming temperatures overnight can cause the ice to quickly deteriorate.

One of the challenges to judging the safety of a sheet of ice is its variability over a distance. It may be 4 inches thick where you are measuring but 50 yards away there may be thin spots that may not support your weight.

One way you can measure ice thickness is by drilling a hole with a cordless drill using a large wood auger.

The best suggestion is to head to the local ice rink at the Regional Park in Truckee if you want to go ice skating. If you choose to go out onto the ice, then you should prepare for survival. Here are some tips, according to the Minnesota DNR; info.dnr@state.mn.us:

1: Wear a life jacket, it will buy you some time for rescue.

2: Use the buddy system and bring a rope to the shore.

3: Try and not panic if you fall through the ice.

4: Don’t remove your cloths, they can trap air to keep you afloat.

5: Place your arms and hands on the unbroken ice. You can use a sharpened screwdriver or ice pick to drive into the ice to hold you up.

6: Lie flat on the ice once you get out to distribute your weight.

7: Go back the way you came, it is probably the strongest ice.

Bill Seline is the chief at the Truckee Fire Protection District. Visit http://www.truckeefire.org to learn more.