"Thick and blue, tried and true.
Thin or crispy, way too risky."
Amesbury is well known for its abundance of water resources, perfect for year-round recreation. For many people living in Amesbury, working or playing on the frozen surface of a river or lake is a normal part of winter. However, knowing how to do so safely can be a matter of life or death; and anyone considering venturing out on the ice should remember that regardless of how cold it is or how thick you think the ice may be, it is the experience of both Fire and Rescue experts and that of the Coast Guard that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SAFE ICE.
The table of ice strength presented below by Mass. Wildlife is for the benefit of ice anglers and other winter sports people. "The figures are for clear, blue ice on lakes and ponds. Reduce strength values 15% for clear blue, river ice. Slush or snow (white) ice is only one-half the strength of blue ice and can be very treacherous. "Honeycombed" ice, which occurs in the spring or during major winter thaws as the ice is melting, is the most dangerous ice, and best avoided unless the angler is certain there is a safe layer of solid ice beneath the honeycombed surface. Anglers should also be aware that many lakes and ponds contain spring holes and other areas of current that may create deceptively dangerous thin spots in areas that are otherwise safe. Always use caution, and don't venture out onto unfamiliar waters without checking ice thickness frequently." Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement
Ice Thickness Table
(inches) and Possible Load (clear, blue, lake ice)
This is a reference guide provided by the State, however the Town of Amesbury advises that no ice is ever considered safe.
Please note that Snowmobiles and ATV's need at least 5 inches, and cars and light trucks need at least 8-12 inches of good clear ice.
Residents should avoid driving on the ice whenever possible. Traveling in a vehicle, especially early or late in the season is simply "an accident waiting to happen."
Remember! Ice on moving water is treacherous and should be avoided. Each lake in town has moving water in its center, and the area around any dam or culvert is extremely unstable. All water control structures are restricted and access is prohibited.
If you are planning to venture out onto the ice, keep these simple guidelines in mind to help ensure your safety:
WHAT DO I DO IF I FALL IN?
As with any emergency, DON'T PANIC! Call for help. It doesn't take long for the cold water to start slowing your physical and mental functions, so you must act quickly. Air will remain trapped in your clothes for a short time aiding your buoyancy. Kick your legs while grasping for firm ice. Try to pull your body up. Once your torso is on firm ice, roll towards thicker ice, spreading yourself across the ice to better distribute your weight. Remember: ice you have previously walked on should be the safest. After you reach safe ice, don't waste precious time! You need to warm up as quick as you can to prevent hypothermia. Seek help and shelter immediately.
Remember, only you are responsible for your own safety.
Thank you to Mass Wildlife for permission to reprint much of the above content.
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