Ice Safety Tips

Many of our favorite outdoor activities take place near or on the ice. Ice usually appears on our lakes in mid to late fall and can remain well into the spring. As much as we love skating, snowmobiling, tobogganing, and fishing, ice over cold lake water can pose some serious, life-threatening dangers.

Keep the following guidelines in mind when playing near or on the ice:

  • Look for signage warning of thin or weak ice on lakes undergoing aeration projects to minimize fish kills from severe winter conditions as they often have areas of open water and thin ice. Lakes undergoing aeration projects to minimize fish kills from severe winter conditions often have areas of open water and thin ice. These lakes are considered potentially hazardous to the public and are required to have highly visible signage stating the dangers.

DANGER – unpredictable thin ice and open water

Lakes with surface aerators running will have substantially altered ice conditions (thin ice or open water). Do not think you know the lake based on previous year’s experience – danger signs are posted to protect you. Enter on to ice at your own risk. Learn more about aerated lakes here:

  • Beware of ice near the inlet and outlet of streams and avoid ice near open water. Always be extra cautious on the river and stream ice. Ice can vary in thickness and strength from area to area because of temperature, water current, springs, snow cover, and time of year.
  • Never walk on ice that is less than 10 cm (4 in.) thick and do not drive on ice that is less than 30 cm (12 in.) thick. When in doubt, don't do it.
  • When travelling in a vehicle on lake ice, keep your seat belts off, open your window a crack, and half unlatch your door so it can be opened quickly. Always carry a shovel and tow rope in your vehicle.
  • Do not drive fast, follow closely behind, or park near another vehicle on the ice. Ice can bend and crack with the weight of people, vehicles, or heavy snow. Keep an eye on ice and snow conditions ahead of you. If the weather has been warm or heavy snow has depressed the ice, there may be hidden slush that can trap a vehicle.
  • Always carry waterproof matches and nails or spikes in your pocket to help you get out of the water.

If you should fall through the ice:

  • Exit your vehicle immediately.
  • If in the water, go to the ice edge and break your way to ice that can hold your weight. Time is of the essence.
  • Crawl on your belly up on ice, spreading your weight as far as possible. Use nails or spikes for added traction.
  • Immediately seek a warm place to remove wet clothes. This may mean going to shore and quickly building a fire. Remember! Hypothermia can set in quickly and leave you helpless.


Updated: Oct 20, 2023