'No ice is 100% safe.' Here are ice safety tips amid cold temperatures

blue ice near munising_2
Posted at 7:17 AM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 07:17:02-05

(WXYZ) — The Oakland County Sheriff's Office is reminding people about ice safety tips amid cold temperatures leading to freezing water in metro Detroit.

"There is no ice that is 100% safe," the sheriff's office said in a press release, that also sets out a guide to help people judge ice.

The sheriff's office said ice that is clear, solid blue is best.

  • 5" thick for general use for fisherman, ice skaters and foot traffic
  • 8" thick for travel by snowmobile or off-road vehicle

People should survey the ice as ice conditions change at every lake and every location every day, even on the same body of water.

Some signs of changing ice conditions can be, but are not limited to:

  • Moving water near a stream or river
  • Unseen spring or inlet
  • Slushy areas
  • Depression in the snow
  • Heavy snow
  • White "milky" or black-colored ice
  • Frazzle ice weakened by freeze-thaw cycles

Other tips include:

  • Do not go out alone on the ice. Always take a partner or someone who can call 911or go for help in an emergency.
  • Do not make the first tracks on the ice. Check with someone who has experience with a particular lake or pond before you venture out on the ice. • Always leave a travel plan with someone who can call for help and direct a search party if you do not return.
  • Dress appropriately for changing weather conditions. Dress in layers to protect all exposed parts of your body. Consider wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) as part of your overall protective clothing or a flotation jacket or suit. Ice creepers attached to boots will help keep you stable on the ice and can assist in self-rescue.
  • Bring safety items which may include cell phone, whistle, rope, ice pick or awls, screwdriver, hand flares, flashlight, throwable PFD. Plan for a rescue.
  • Check and double check the ice thickness with an ice spud, auger or cordless drill. If you discover a weak spot, retrace your route off the ice. Keep a distance between others in your group.
  • If you hear the ice crack or detect unsafe ice you should stay spread out, immediately lie down (which will distribute your weight) and crawl back to safer ice by the same way you came.
  • If someone falls through the ice, do not run to the hole. First call 911 and then use a pole, branch, rope or any other handy object, which can be extended to the victim from a safe position. You cannot help if you become a victim.
  • If you fall through the ice, try not to panic as this will hinder your self-rescue actions. Call out for help and kick your feet while getting your hands and arms up onto safer ice. This is when the ice awl or screwdriver will help you with your self-rescue. Continue to "swim" up onto the ice far enough to crawl or "roll-out" to safer ice.
  • Snowmobiles, ORV's and other vehicles on the ice increase your risk of falling through, especially at night. Many accidents occur when operators are driving at a high rate of speed and are unable to slow or stop in time to avoid open water or unsafe ice.
  • Pets that venture onto unsafe ice are another major cause for many near drownings and deaths. If your pet has ventured out onto the ice, resist the urge to go out after them. Stay at a safe position on shore and persuade them back to safety.
  • Wildlife venturing onto unsafe ice is a natural occurrence. Deer are strong swimmers prepared for cold weather and find their own way off the ice. Most often, wildlife discovered in the water are injured and succumb to injuries from predators or natural forces.