Portsmouth, NH
Partly Cloudy
5:22 am8:16 pm EDT
82°F / 59°F
81°F / 66°F
75°F / 66°F

NH Fish and Game Urges People To Assess Ice Safety Before Venturing Out

Credit: iStock

by Hadley Barndollar, New Hampshire Bulletin

Because of this winter’s unpredictable and fluctuating temperatures, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials are urging people to exercise caution when near ice. 

“With erratic weather conditions, some areas of ice may look safe, but may not be,” Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of Fish and Game’s Law Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “As always, we are urging people to check the ice thickness before going out onto any frozen waterbody.”

Ice conditions are becoming less safe as New Hampshire winters trend warmer and temperatures more variable. 

Fish and Game officials encourage people on foot to carefully assess ice safety before venturing out, by using an ice chisel or auger to determine ice thickness and composition. Officials caution that thickness is not uniform over an entire body of water, and snow-covered ice can be deceiving.

There should be a minimum of 6 inches of hard ice before foot use and 8 to 10 inches for snow machines or off-highway recreational vehicles, according to the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover.

New Hampshire Fish and Game offers the following safety tips:

Don’t venture onto ice during thaws.Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy.Watch out for thin, clear, or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots.Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker. Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents, and wave action that weaken ice.Never gather in groups on less than 8 to 10 inches of hard ice.Always bring along a rescue rope, ice picks, and a personal flotation device such as a float coat or life preserver.If you do break through the ice, stay calm. Move or swim back to where you fell in, where you know the ice was solid. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. A set of ice picks can help you pull yourself out; wear them around your neck or put them in an easily accessible pocket. Once out of the water, roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice.If someone you are with breaks through the ice, don’t rush over to the hole. Look for something to use to reach out to the person, such as a rope, tree branch, or ice spud (ice fishing tool). Lie down flat and reach out with the object. After securing the person, do not stand; wiggle backward on the solid ice, pulling the person with you.

This story was written by Hadley Barndollar, a reporter for the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com. Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.