Maine Warden Service warns: No safe ice anywhere in state

Posted Dec. 17, 2009, at 11:13 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Warden Service urges people not to venture out onto any ice that may be covering Maine’s waterways.

The state’s lakes and ponds may appear to be frozen in parts or their entirety, but safe ice conditions cannot be assumed even though temperatures have been below freezing in recent days. Also, any snow covering thin layers of ice acts as insulation and slows the freezing process.

“There are no safe ice conditions anywhere in the state right now,” said Col. Joel Wilkinson, chief warden of the Maine Warden Service. “I understand that people are anxious to begin winter activities, such as ice fishing and snowmobiling. But don’t risk your life or the lives of others by traveling onto thin ice.”

As the temperatures continue to fall in the coming weeks, and the ice begins to thicken, the Maine Warden Service recommends that people check the thickness of any ice before venturing onto it.

Maine Warden Service offers these tips for ice safety:

• Never guess the thickness of the ice: Check it. Check the ice in several different places using an auger or some other means to make a test hole and determine the thickness. Make several, beginning at the shore, and continuing as you go out.

• Check the ice with a partner, so if something does happen, someone is there to help you. If you are doing it alone, wear a lifejacket.

• If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off. Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.

ä Avoid areas with currents, around bridges and pressure ridges. Wind and currents can break ice.

• Parents should alert children of unsafe ice in their area, and make sure that they stay off the ice. If they insist on using their new skates, suggest an indoor skating rink.

If you break through the ice, remember:

• Don’t panic.

• Don’t try to climb out immediately — you will probably break the ice again. Reach for solid ice.

• Place both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift your body onto the ice. Once on the ice, roll, don’t walk, to safety.

• To help someone who has fallen through the ice, lie down flat and reach with a branch, plank or rope or form a human chain. Don’t stand. After securing the victim, wiggle backward to the solid ice.

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