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Coast Guard Auxiliary Urges Ice Safety Diligence

Coast Guard Auxiliary Encourages Ice Safety

OGDENSBURG – Late season ice fishing can provide hours of enjoyment, but it also requires extra precautions when venturing out on the ice. Strong late winter winds and waves, and rising air temperatures can weaken the ice in the same locations where you have fished safely all winter. Checking the thickness of the ice on every trip can mean the difference between a memorable day fishing or an unfortunate plunge into the icy waters.

Four inches is the recommended standard for walking on the ice. Check the thickness with a spud or chisel as you proceed as ice thickness is not consistent. Remember that a little water on top of the ice makes it extremely slippery increasing the risk of falling. When walking on ice, keep your center of gravity over your front leg. Walk like a penguin keeping your knees slightly bent, walking flat footed while taking short shuffling steps. To be extra safe, it might be best to leave your pickup truck or ATV on shore.

Here are a few reminders to assist fishermen in planning a late winter outing on the ice. Remember ICE.

I Information – remain informed by checking the weather and ice conditions before going out. Know your intended destination on the ice and how to call for help. C - Clothing – wear enough clothing to prevent hypothermia. Dress for the water temperature, not the warm air temperature. Pick bright colors and reflective clothing to aid searchers should you end up needing help. E - Equipment – Bring safety equipment: a cell phone, marine radio, Personal Locator Beacon, life jacket/float coat, a whistle or noise making device, screw drivers or ice picks which can help you pull yourself out of the water should you break through the ice. Your cell phone or marine radio can summon help should your ice break away and drift away from shore.

Complete an Ice Plan should include: the names and number of persons going on the ice as you should never fish alone; where and when you are leaving from, your destination, and when you will return. List the cell phone number for everyone in your fishing group. Identifying information about your vehicle(s) and where it will be parked. Leave your plan with a reliable person who will notify the Coast Guard or other rescue organization if you do not return as scheduled. Should your plans change, be sure to notify the person holding your Ice Plan.

Remember, per New York State law, "all ice shanties must be marked on the outside with the owner's name and address in letters at least 3 inches high. Shanties must be removed from all waters by March 15 to prevent them from falling through the ice in spring and becoming hazards to navigation”.

With the proper precautions you can insure a safe ice fishing experience for yourself and your family!

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit

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