Thin ice is a big issue this year. Yesterday, rescue crews pulled out another person that fell threw the ice on Pemaquid Pond in Damariscotta.

Last week saw multiple ice rescues as well, Vassalboro had two boys falling through while trying to cross Outlet Stream, an Oxford man went through on Thompson Lake in Oxford while skating, and the other day a Princeton man was rescued from the icy waters of Long Lake.

Due to varying weather conditions this winter, game wardens are reminding everyone to be cautious and check ice conditions before venturing out. Due to uneven temperatures and high winds this season, ice conditions are currently very unpredictable.

According to Major Chris Cloutier of the Warden Service.

“Test the thickness of the ice using an ice chisel or ice auger in several locations on the lake or pond, and remember that new ice is usually stronger than old ice and ice seldom freezes uniformly. Ice that forms over flowing water and currents, especially near streams, bridges and culverts, can be particularly dangerous.”

Even if the weather has been below freezing for several days, don’t guess about ice thickness. Check the ice in several places by using anauger, chisel or ax to make test holes beginning at the shore and continuing as you move out.

If ice at the shoreline is cracked or squishy, stay off.

Watch out for thin, clear or honeycomb shaped ice. Dark snow and dark ice are other signs of weak spots.

Carry a pair of ice picks that may be home made or purchased from most sporting goods stores. A life vest under your winter gear is a good idea as well.

A good rule of thumb regarding ice thickness is:

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ may be OK for ice fishing or activities on foot
5″ often allows for snowmobile or ATV travel
8″ – 12″ of good ice supports most cars or small pickups
12″ – 15″ will likely hold a medium sized truck

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

Do your due diligence and you can safety enjoy Maine's frozen water bounties.

The Maine Wardens Service offers a great resource with many more ice safety tips, HERE.

Be safe out there!

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