State News
March 26, 2015

Vermont ice surfaces are weakening

The public is encouraged to stay off ice-covered waterways

After a long and cold winter Vermonters have been treated to a few warmer days of late. But as spring approaches, ice on waterways is getting weaker. Because of the increased risk, state and federal partners are advising Vermonters and our visitors to stay off the ice on lakes, ponds and rivers.

Even with recent cold days, the high sun angle means more of the sun’s warmth has been absorbed by water under the ice. That warmer water is melting the ice from the bottom up, so even if an ice surface appears solid, it is likely weakened significantly. With a stretch of sunny weather, ice on lakes will deteriorate even more, so it is best to assume that NO ice surface is safe. Always keep your pets on a leash if walking near a partially frozen waterway.

If you or anyone you know does venture onto the ice and experience trouble—keep the following in mind:

If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt to rescue it. Go for help.

“Reach-Throw-Go.” If someone falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.) to try to pull them toward shore. If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.

If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction from which you came. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward and back onto the ice by kicking your feet. Once out, do not stand up but remain lying on the ice to distribute your weight and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.

The best way to avoid trouble is to avoid the ice entirely until next winter. The water will be open and warm soon so we can all safely enjoy Vermont’s lakes and rivers.

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