Friday, January 4, 2013

No ice is safe ice

   Sadly, with the recent tragedy here in Oakland County, another lesson is hopefully learned. That is there is no such thing as truly safe ice.
   Several inches may be OK for walking only while several more may allow for the weight of ATV's and snowmobiles. But there are a lot of 'if's' that involve having  safe experience on the ice.
   Wearing a PFD or life preserver is paramount. That means it's the first piece of vital equipment anyone venturing onto the ice should consider wearing.
   This is definitely not the time of the year when a PFD can be stowed in a spot in the shanty or in your bucket. This is the time it needs to be worn.
   If you should go through the ice you won't have enough time to put it on, snap the buckles while at the same time trying to get yourself out of the water.
   In the years I've been ice fishing I've probably seen two anglers wearing a PFD. One was on Saginaw Bay and the other I can't remember.
   The guy on the Bay stood out from everyone else because of his use of a PFD. But no one pointed it out or teased him for wearing it. Instead, many of us were thinking maybe we should have one on.
   Wearing a PFD won't guarantee safe ice. But it will allow you to gain a little time should the unfortunate befall you.
   You're going to need all the extra time you can get to save your life or someone else's. And those 'if's" previously mentioned?
   How thick is the ice and what if it's snowed, has that affected conditions? What if there are underground springs or running water in the form of a stream or river running through the lake/ How will that affect conditions?
   The list goes on. What appears to be good, solid ice where you are currently standing may be open water or very thin ice just a few steps in either direction.
   Be safe on the ice. Break the PFD out, toss a length of rope in your bucket, and carry ice picks or a couple of screw drivers hung around your neck on a length of thin cord or some other material.
   Don't become another statistic this winter. Safe fishing!

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