Is the ice safe to walk on? What Vermonters should know about frozen lakes and ponds.

·2 min read

Ponds and smaller lakes that haven't frozen over already could do so this week as Vermont is gripped by bitter cold temperatures and wind chills.

As they freeze, people will be tempted to venture out onto the ice to fish, skate, hike, ski and snowmobile. But, ice should never be assumed to be safe, winter sports groups and state officials have said.

There are ways to determine whether ice is safe enough, but ice conditions can change quickly in different areas of the body of water. Areas with moving water, such as rivers or currents, can cause ice to form unevenly, according to information on Vermont Fish and Wildlife's website.

People walk on ice past the Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise boat docked by the Burlington Community Boathouse toward the breakwater in Burlington Bay on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.
People walk on ice past the Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise boat docked by the Burlington Community Boathouse toward the breakwater in Burlington Bay on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the National Weather Service in Burlington and the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers have offered the following tips for judging ice thickness on the state's bodies of water.

  • Carry an ice spud or a chisel to test ice thickness and condition.

  • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone if they've fallen through the ice.

  • Leave cars or trucks on the shore. If you choose to bring your vehicle on the ice, drive with windows down for an escape route if the car breaks through.

  • Get off the ice if you see areas of open water. Wind paired with waves can break off large pieces of ice at once.

  • If ice fishing, wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.

  • Tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back.

  • Bring a fully-charged cellphone.

  • Avoid alcoholic beverages while on the ice. They can slow down a person's reaction time in case of emergency.

  • Be cautious crossing near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands and over reefs and springs. Ice is almost always thinner in these areas.

More information about ice safety can be found through the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers at vtvast.org/ice-safety-and-thickness.html or the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife at vtfishandwildlife.com/newsroom/ice-safety-tips-this-winter-season.

More: Bitter winds are coming: How to stay safe and warm during a Vermont cold snap

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-310-8585 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Vermont's lakes and rivers are icing over. How to stay safe.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting