Last week, we took a look at some safety tips for ice anglers looking for cash in on the remaining weeks of ice time. Today we’ll round out the safety tips with a few useful things to keep in mind when you plan to bring vehicles onto the ice.
For starters, the more common modes of transportation you’re likely to have—a snowmobile, an ATV, or a car or truck—will need at least 5-6 inches of clear, solid ice, or 8 inches, respectively.
When you have multiple vehicles on the ice, be sure to keep a distance between them. Also, unless you absolutely have to, don’t follow each other in single file. You’ll notice that when the ice is only marginally safe for vehicles, your car or truck will make a wake beneath the ice. When the wakes of more than one vehicle collide, cars following each other closely can easily break through ice that held up under the first few cars in the line. Also, no matter how thick the ice, it’s a good idea to always drive slowly. A fast-moving vehicle can make the ice ahead of it bulge, and while it rarely happens, the ice can break apart in front of the vehicle.
On the ice, you’ll obviously want to avoid driving into areas where you know the ice is bad. These areas include springs, moving water, and around aerators. Also, avoid expansion cracks, or pressure ridges where the ice expands and pushes over the top of itself, creating layers of broken ice. Furthermore, watch out for any large blocks of ice that may have been left lying around after large spearing or angling holes have been sawed. After the snow covers them up, they can be impossible to see. Finally, always be prepared to bail out of your vehicle should it go through the ice. If you suspect that ice beneath you may be unsafe, unbuckle your seat belt and leave the windows rolled down so you can get out quickly.
While taking an ATV, snowmobile, or vehicle on the ice can sound foolish to some, keeping today’s tips in mind can make it just a little safer. There are a few more weeks of ice left, so if you’re making a last ditch effort to fill your freezer, good luck and be safe!