How To Tell If It’s Safe to Walk on Frozen Ponds in the Hudson Valley
With all of the frigid cold weather we've had you may think it's safe to walk on any frozen pond you come across. That could actually be a deadly mistake.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, playing on the ice can have deadly consequences. Whether you're ice skating, fishing, snowmobiling, or playing hockey, you need to be sure that the ice won't give way underneath.
The DEC says that it's important to look at the ice before you attempt to walk on it. If the ice is clear and looks new, it will be stronger. Slush ice is about 50 percent weaker than clear ice. Ice that's over water that's usually running, like a stream, will always be 20% weaker than a pond or lake.
The first thing you should do is determine if it's clear or slush ice. If the ice is white, it's not as strong as crystal clear ice.
It's dangerous to even try to walk on ice that is less than two inches thick. For white ice, that would be four inches. Most ice fishing enthusiasts refuse to set foot on clear ice that is less than five inches. The DEC recommends at least four inches of clear or eight inches of white ice for foot traffic.
If you're snowmobiling or on an ATV, clear ice over five inches should be sufficient. A small car or pickup truck can be supported by eight to 12 inches of clear ice or 16 to 24 inches of white ice. Any larger vehicles, such as larger trucks would need to add another four inches of ice to be safe from breaking through.
Another important thing to watch for is the use of "bubblers." These devices are usually positioned near docks to prevent them from freezing. They can produce thin, unsafe ice, even in areas of ice that are far away from where they're being used.
Whenever you're heading out on frozen water, the DEC recommends using the "buddy system" and always being alert to possible danger.
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