Can I Walk on That Lake? - Finding Safe Ice

You want to go ice fishing or play a few games of pond hockey with buddies. You walk a few feet on the ice and haven't fallen through yet. The ice is ok to stay on, right?

The short answer would be to measure the thickness with a measuring tape. IN which you would use the following chart.

You would also want to take into account the following situations.

ice colour

  • Blue ice has the greatest density per cubic centimetre

  • Grey ice indicates the presence of water. Ice can melt even if the air temperature is below 0°C

  • Snow ice is half as strong as blue-clear ice. Snow ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice. Often it’s weak due to air pockets in the ice.

  • Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom. If there is slush on the ice, stay off.

The ice shouldn’t have flowing water nearby

Ice formed over flowing water is often dangerous. The different water depths and water temperature in rivers and streams can result in variable ice thickness. This is especially true near stream outlets and inlets, springs, channels between lakes, bridges, and culverts.

Water depth and size of the water body

Large and deep bodies of water take longer to freeze. also not that Ice near the shore can be weaker than ice farther out.

Snow cover

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker than uncovered ice. The extra weight of snow cover also reduces how much weight the ice can support. Shovel any snow before testing the ice for thickness and color. Watch for large cracks, depressions or pressure ridges in the ice and avoid those areas.

Changing water levels.

When the water level drops, shore ice may be suspended in the air (and is likely to be weak without the underlying water).

Logs, rocks, bridges and docks absorbing heat from the sun.

These structures often have thinner ice or open water near them. The dark objects attract heat from the sun and will melt nearby ice.

When Venturing on the ice

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

  • Check ice thickness often, inspect for cracks and damage.

  • Know how to use ice picks for self-rescue and a rope to rescue others.

  • In a group, avoid crossing ice in a single file, and avoid standing together in a spot. Spread out.

  • Test ice thickness before you settle on a spot.

  • Look for large cracks or depressions in the ice and avoid them.

  • Avoid going alone, at all times.

Safety equipment

  • If unfamiliar with the ice conditions, wear a flotation device (except when inside a vehicle). If you fall, it will keep your head above water and provide some insulation.

  • Take a waterproof cell phone and

  • Bring an ice safety kit with you on the ice: throw bag, ice picks, ice chisel or auger, and tape measure.


If you fall through keep in mind the 1-10 guideline, a way to remember the first two phases of cold water immersion and the approximate time they take.

1 Minute - cold shock

Avoid panic and gain control of your breathing

10 Minutes – Loss of Movement (enter hypothermia zone)

You have 10 minutes to get out of the water or you’ll lose the use of your fingers, arms and legs. Ice picks are very helpful during this phase. Hypothermia is going to kick in soon.

Steps to perform a self-rescue

  1. Remain calm, do not hyperventilate

  2. head in the direction in which you came, get as much of your body on the ice as you can. (Kick, Kick, Kick!) - This is where Ice picks Help

  3. Stay Flat, let as much as water as possible drain from your clothes. Think, water attached to you makes you heavy

  4. Roll on your belly until you know you are on solid ice.

  5. Get to the warmest place possible, change into dry clothes. ASAP. (do not jump into a hot shower, slowly warm yourself)

This is basic knowledge that everyone should obtain prior to heading onto the ice. Think, this article only takes 3 Min to read, Share this to the people who might need it!

Have fun on the ice! Share your activities with us! Tag us in your pics!

This article is only meant to share insight. This is not going to be accurate in every situation. You shall assume all risks involved with walking on ice. DOn't blindly trust our information. All ice needs to be checked prior to contact. We assume no liability.

23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All