- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for Environmental and Public Safety Officials Urge Public to Stay Safe On and Near Ice
Carolyn Assa, Communications Director
BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Police (MSP), the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) are cautioning the public about the potential dangers of thin ice on the state’s many lakes, ponds, streams and rivers, and ask the public to be responsible and mindful of local conditions, aware of the possible dangers while on the ice and to remain diligent in following prudent ice safety practices.
“Many factors including temperature fluctuations and water flow can affect how and when ice freezes and thaws, making it unpredictable and extremely dangerous for anyone trying to walk on or cross it,” said DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper. “The Department of Conservation and Recreation suggests residents exercise extreme caution when partaking in outdoor recreational activities, such as ice fishing, ice skating and snowmobiling, as the late onset of winter means no waterbody is frozen enough yet to safely support such activities.”
“Many people safely enjoy ice fishing and other outdoor activities on Massachusetts lakes and ponds in winter, but it is always important to take common-sense precautions to keep yourself and your family safe,” said DFG Commissioner Ron Amidon. “Remember to plan ahead, bring proper safety equipment and know the thickness and quality of ice before venturing out, preferably with someone experienced with ice safety.”
“Cold weather activities are a source of enjoyment for many people, but participation carries the responsibility of recognizing dangers posed by thin ice and taking steps to keep yourself and your loved ones safe,” said Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “Our Troopers, like all first responders in New England, have seen first-hand the tragic consequences that can result when someone fails to use caution on frozen bodies of water. Have fun outdoors this winter, but be smart and stay safe doing so, for your sake and the sake of those who love you.”
If you witness a person or animal fall through the ice, call for help before attempting a rescue on your own to prevent becoming a victim yourself. Always use something long or throw something to help the victim while you are awaiting assistance from first responders. In all circumstances, individuals are urged to put safety first. Below and on DFG’s MassWildlife’s webpage are ice safety tips to adhere to when near bodies of water during the winter months:
- Parents should always closely watch and supervise their children.
- Never go onto ice alone.
- Always keep pets on a leash (if a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue yourself - instead, call for help).
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it from freezing. It also hides cracks as well as other weak spots.
- Ice formed on flowing water (including springs under the surface) is generally weaker than ice over still water.
- Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick in one spot and an inch thick in another.
- If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw something to them (a rope, tree branch, jumper cables from a car, etc.). If this does not work, go or phone for help. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
- If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction you came from and place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once the ice is solid enough to hold you, and you can pull yourself out, remain laid out on the ice (do not stand; lying down spreads your weight across a wider area, lessening your weight on any one spot) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back the way you came, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice or ground.
- As the season progresses, plan accordingly and use caution, as older ice conditions greatly vary and are subject to rapid changes.
Furthermore, the Massachusetts State Police reminds the public to call 911 in an emergency, such as a person or a pet falling through the ice. Additionally, several state parks and facilities provide outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the winter season, some with DCR rangers and/or staff facilitating programs. Please visit the DCR’s website for details and MassWildlife’s Get Started Ice Fishing website for a video and information on ice safety and ice fishing.