ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — You can never be too careful when it comes to walking on the lake ice, especially right now with the weather still expected to be so warm over the next several days. Which is why when I spoke to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Rochester, they told me that while it may be tempting to go out on the ice it’s important to know how to do so safely, or don’t do it at all.
No ice is safe ice, according to Petty Officer Lucas Weston from the U.S. Coast Guard Rochester Station, who says that it’s important to be as familiar as you can with the current state of the ice before venturing out on it.
“If you go out, take a pair of ice sole with you, or something that if you do fall through it can assist you to get out,” Weston said. “When you go out on the boat, let someone know that you’re going out on the ice, where you’re going, how long you plan on being gone, and if something does happen, they can reach out to us or another emergency service.”
A typical rule of thumb to follow is to stay off any ice that is two inches thick or less, especially if you have any heavy ice fishing gear or multiple people with you. Ice that is four inches thick or more is your safest bet to know you can at least stand and sit on it safely.
“Knowing your general area where you’re going to be fishing is the best way to know. If you have any hesitations about the thickness of the ice, we definitely recommend not going on it,” Weston says.
If you do happen to fall through thin ice, the most difficult and important thing to remember is to not panic.
“It’ll take a little bit of time because you’ll get that cold shock to get your breathing under control, but once you have that and calm as you can be in that situation we recommend you turn and face the direction you fell in because that will be the strongest ice, try to boost yourself up being low to the ice as possible and rolling way,” Weston says.
It’s also recommended for those ice fishing to wear a life jacket, because it can significantly increase your survival rate if you do fall through. And it’s safe to say that no ice on Lake Ontario is safe to walk on right now with an estimated thickness of two inches or less, so while that may be enough to hold up the birds, it’s definitely not enough to hold up a person.