State Police offers snowmobile safety tips

December 28, 2013

HART — The Michigan State Police Hart Post reminds you to be cautious this winter before venturing out on a frozen lake or pond.

Remember that there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.  The safest ice to walk on or drive on is new, clear ice that is not covered by snow.  The minimum thickness of ice needed to travel safely by foot is four inches and 8-12 inches for snowmobiles, ATV’s, cars and small trucks.

“Part of enjoying Michigan winters is recognizing potential dangers and taking responsible precautions,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Leavitt, Hart Post commander.  “Knowing ice conditions prior to venturing outside and testing ice thickness are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of accident.”

To stay safe while participating in ice activities:

  • Test ice thickness and quality with a spud or needle bar or an auger. Ice does not form with uniform thickness on any body of water.  Underwater springs or currents can wear thin spots in ice on any body of water.

  • Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, is very porous and can be very weak. Ice covered by snow should always be presumed unsafe.

  • Pay attention to weather reports. Never venture out on big water if blowing snow is in the forecast.

  • Avoid driving on the ice whenever possible, especially at night.  Reduced visibility increases the chance for driving into an open or weak ice area.

  • Go out with a buddy and keep a good distance apart as you walk on the ice.

  • Carry a pair of ice picks or a device, such as a screwdriver that can be used to pull you out of the water and onto solid ice.

  • Wear a life vest under your winter gear or wear a flotation snowmobile suit; however, do NOT wear a flotation device if traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle.

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