TRI-LAKES, Ind. (FOX 55) - People will be taking to the ponds and lakes this winter to enjoy some outdoor fun, but it's important to learn and re-learn how to keep safe while on the ice.
Every year, local fire departments and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are called to scenes to rescue people and pets from the icy waters. Without being careful, you could unexpectedly be in the water yourself.
The DNR posted a helpful guide to know when it's safe to go out on ice. And while you won't see Godzilla or an AT-AT on the ice, it's still a good idea to follow guidelines.
SGT. Patrick Heidenreich, Conservation Officer with the Indiana DNR said, "Realize that no ice is safe ice. There's only minimum recommendations that we can make. If there's not at least 4 inches of good, clear ice, you should stay off of it. That's the minimum given to support a human."
Another tip inexperienced ice sport enthusiasts might not know says Heidenreich: "You don't want to go on ice where there's moving water underneath it or if there is an outlet, whether that be in a pond, geothermal, or some of these creeks that dump into local lakes. Stay away from the ice around there because moving water can degrade the ice thickness and make it unsafe to go out on."
Test the ice with an auger near the edge, if it meets the thickness requirements, you're good to go. If you can't tell or if you see a red light on some area ponds, stay off the ice.
When you go out on the ice, you should always wear a life jacket or a float coat, have ice picks to break ice if you do fall in, wear slip on spikes to help keep grip, and if you're near shore, tether a rope to a tree or dock to help pull yourself to shore if you fall in, and never go out on the ice alone.
Around the area, lakes are starting to freeze over, but as rain and warmer temperatures move in, that'll start to decrease, so use caution when going out on ice
"If you do venture out on unsafe ice, you're not only putting yourself at risk, but you're putting all the first responders that may have to come to your rescue at risk, so it is not worth it to go out on unsafe ice," Heidenreich said. So make sure to follow these tips and more below to keep safe on the ice this winter.