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Winter recreation: ice safety

This winter, don't risk being on thin ice. Learn ice safety and what to do if you fall in.

You should always take extreme caution when venturing onto ice because falling through can cause hypothermia and drowning. Follow these general ice safety tips to help protect you and your family this winter:

Test the ice

Always test the thickness of the ice first.

  • Ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick for safety on foot.
  • How to test: Use a chisel or auger to make a hole, and measure the thickness with a tape measure.
  • How often to test: Test the ice every 150 feet, as ice rarely freezes uniformly, and never assume a winter's worth of ice is safe new ice is stronger than old ice.
  • Look for clear ice. Clear ice is twice as strong as snow-covered or white ice. When testing the latter, it should be twice as thick.

On the ice

Don't forget these safety considerations.

  • Dress appropriately. Wear shoes or boots with plenty of traction and layer up with water-resistant clothing.
  • Use the buddy system. Never go onto the ice alone, and always stay 10 feet from your partner when moving on the ice. That way, if one person falls in, the other is able to help.

If you fall through

Know what to do in this worst-case scenario.

  • Remember to bring safety tools. Before you head out on the ice, make sure you have ice picks to help you climb out of the water and a whistle to call for help.
  • Don't panic. You'll lose energy fast, so make slow and intentional movements toward the place you fell in.
  • Avoid standing up right away. Travel away from the hole on your stomach or side keeping your body weight evenly distributed across the ice to help prevent further cracks.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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