Ice Safety Information
There is no such thing as completely safe when dealing with ice.
It should always be assumed that unsafe conditions exist no matter where you travel on Ice.
There are many factors that can change the thickness of ice even in the coldest weather.
It is not uncommon for large areas of water to open up as a result of pressure cracks even when the ice is very thick.
Always Check with Ice Hut Operators
It is always best to check with the local operator closest to where you plan to travel out on the Ice.
Conditions can vary dramatically around any given body of water.
Click Here to go to the Ice Hut Operators in the Lake Simcoe Region.
See our Ice Conditions Report
- Make sure someone is aware where your going and when to expect you back.
- Save your alcohol for the shore (Ice in the drink not drink on the Ice.)
- Never travel on the Ice alone take a buddy.
- Don't travel to close together.
- Learn about Hypothermia and how to treat it.
- Ensure your hut has proper ventilation for the heater or stove.
- A cell Phone (Store it in a zip lock bag to keep it dry and turn it off to conserve the battery)
- GPS device (Visibility can change from clear to near Zero in a few minutes even on a clear day just from the wind.)
- Compass if you don't have a GPS
Throw Rope (if someone falls in do not approach use the rope)
Tether Rope 50' between buddies (If your testing ice this is essential)
Ice Picks (a very inexpensive way to save your Life, wear them around your neck all the times)
Flotation Device or flotation suit
- A Walking stick 6ft or more (useful for balance and to test Ice)
A change of Dry Clothes (kept in a plastic bag)
Thermal Mylar Blanket (very cheap and small)
- Cleats many injuries take place as a result of simply slipping.
- Glow sticks
- Floating Flashlight
- Signal Flares
- Hand & Foot warmers
- First Aid kit for cuts scrapes and hook removal
Ice Safety Factors
Springs or currents can erode ice thickness from below.
Sand bars heat up on sunny days and change ice quality quickly.
- Snow on ice acts as an insulator and prevents ice from forming properly.
- Ice that has thawed and refrozen is less safe.
- Holes left behind when a hut is moved can swallow a snowmobile or ATV.
- Slushy Ice is not safe.
On Lake Simcoe the Ferry path to Georgina Island remains open long after ice has formed.
Pressure cracks can form open water at any time no matter how cold or thick the ice.
- Over used trails onto the ice can degrade into holes or very thin ice.
- Wind can cause large pieces of sheet ice to break free sometimes miles wide.
- On the West shores of Lake Simcoe we have a particular danger every spring when the strong West winds break huge pieces of ice sheets free, sometimes miles long.
- Shore Ice will melt first and create dangerous soft or thin ice.
Taking Cars and Trucks out on the Ice
- First rule would be, Don't do it.
- Move slowly, Vehicles moving across an Ice surface creates a pressure wave that can cause ice to fail, especially near shore.
- Park far apart all to often we see vehicles parked to close together. It may take hours for the combined weight to cause the ice to sink and then fail.
- Park as far from your fishing spot as you can. (If the ice does fail you may loose your vehicle but you will be alive to tell the story.
- Leave your window open when traveling, if your vehicle does go through you won't be able to open the doors it's your only way out.
- Undo you seatbelt, you need to be able to vacate the vehicle quickly.
- When driving on the ice stay well clear of other fisherman. The vehicle noice can shut down fishing.
Ice Thickness (Values listed assume Clear Hard New Ice)
- Less Than 3" or 7cm Stay Off
- 4" or 10cm Walking or cross country Sking
- 5" or 12cm Snowmobile or ATV
- 8" - 12' or 20 - 30cm Car or Small Pickup
- 12" - 15" or 30 - 38cm Medium Truck
Points of Interest
- Insurance for hut operators is difficult to get under 12" of ice.
- It's unlikely that you have coverage for your vehicle if it falls through the Ice.
- If a search and Rescue team are dispatched you may be liable for the costs.
- You as the owner of the vehicle are responsible for the costs to recover your vehicle. (Expensive)
- You may receive fines for environmental cleanup if your vehicle goes through.
- You may be personally liable for the people in your vehicle.
- If you move your hut, mark the hole you left behind.
- Don't fish close to someone else's spot unless invited.
- Be quiet, fish are very aware of sound and will move off if disturbed, even loud talk can do it.
- When traveling stay clear of other fishermen and huts with your vehicles.
- Remove your hut at the end of the season, don't pollute or create navigational water hazards.
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