person standing on thin and cracking ice

What is Considered Thin Ice?

The Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs says ice should always be measured in multiple places before testing it with your weight. The following are the recommended thickness of ice for the specified activity:

  • 2 inches thick or less should be avoided completely 
  • 4 inches or more is considered safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot 
  • 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiles or ATVs
  • 8 to 12 inches is necessary for a small car
  • 12 to 15 inches of ice is necessary for trucks

General Ice and Cold Water Safety

  • Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.
  • Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt a rescue. Call 911 instead.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As the ice ages, the bond between the crystals decay, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.
  • Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing.
  • Slush is a danger sign, indicating that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
  • Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally 15% weaker.
  • Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one foot thick in one spot but only one inch thick just 10 feet away.

What To Do If Someone Falls Through Ice

  • Reach-Throw-Go: If someone falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.) If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
  • If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction from which you came. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.

If you have any questions, call the Weston Fire Department at 781-786-6101. If you feel that someone may be in danger, dial 911.

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