As anglers brave the frozen waters this season, the following tips are recommended to make any ice fishing trip a safe one.
Ice conditions may vary greatly from one lake or reservoir to another. Treat each one separately. Research as much as possible before going.
Never ice fish alone. Always walk single file with a short space between partner so if one breaks through the ice the other will be safe and able to give assistance.
Always tell someone about fishing location and estimated return time. Don't change plans without telling someone.
Dress in several layers of clothing; one should be wool if possible. Clothing can be removed or added as needed.
Before venturing onto the ice, use a stick or bar to test the strength of the ice. Continue to test if moving further out. There should be a minimum of four inches of good clear ice before its safe.
Milky colored ice is not as strong as clear ice.
Heavy snow cover insulates ice and prevents it from freezing as evenly and as quickly as it would if the snow weren't there.
Always carry a 50-foot length of rope with a small weight attached to one end.
The rope can be used to toss to someone who has fallen in without getting too close to the hole and being in danger. The rope can also be tossed out to help by someone who has fallen in.
Carry a pair of long spike nails in outer coat pockets, one on each side. The nails can be used to grip ice if a fall in occurs and no one else is around.
Once out of the water, crawl or roll back along same path to safe ice. Do not stand up.
Wear a personal floatation device. Life jackets provide floatation and protection from hypothermia.
Take along a thermos of a hot drink or soup for warmth.
Avoid alcoholic beverages. Beer and booze increase chances for hypothermia and increase the likelihood of stupid mistakes that will cost a life.