Get Hooked on Ice Fishing Safety
As temperatures drop, and ice forms, many take to the waters for ice fishing and other fun outdoor activities this time of year. But before going out on the frozen lake, pond, or even river, we encourage you take extra precautions to ensure safety for not just yourself, but everyone on the ice.
One of the biggest concerns many have is falling through the ice. However, it is equally important not to forget the other dangers ice fishing presents. The risks you should be aware of include injuries such as cuts, fish-hook related injuries, fires and burns, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Help minimize these dangers this year by preparing yourself now for the possibility of an emergency.
Falling through the ice is very dangerous and could easily happen to anyone. It is always best to err on the side of caution. We recommend reading your local fishing reports and pay attention to your surroundings. Most people will start to congregate where the fishing is best, but it also brings an extra peace of mind to know that others have already found a safe place to fish.
Choosing safe ice is the first step for preventing tragedy. It is important to keep in mind that ice thickness is not consistent. You cannot judge it strictly by appearance, so it is essential to drill test holes as you progress out onto the ice. This process may take some time, but it will help you to judge the thickness and character of the ice as you proceed.
As you progress out on the ice, beware of any partially submerged materials such as trees. It is best to stay away from cracks, slushy areas and darker areas of ice as these can be indicators of thinner ice. It is also a wise idea to be cautious of heavily snow packed areas, as snow can prevent the surface from freezing.
When venturing out, it is best to not go alone. You never know when an accident could happen, and a friend could save your life. If you do go alone, make sure to inform someone of your destination and when you plan to return. We also recommend wearing a life jacket or flotation device over your snow suit or clothing. If you were to fall in, a life jacket will not only provide flotation but also help protect you from hypothermia. In addition to the life jacket, it’s a good idea to have a small emergency kit on you at all times. This kit should include items such as a lighter, pocketknife, compass, whistle, waterproof matches, and a phone.
This small safety kit can be used to help you survive if you were to fall in and can’t get out. What you should do to help extend your survival time until help arrives is to stay calm. Use the whistle to help attract help from others. Then keep your movements slow and deliberate to help conserve as much heat as possible while moving back to where you entered the water. You will notice a progressive decrease in your strength and ability to move, but do your best to remain calm.
If you are wearing a snowmobile helmet and your face is in the water, remove the helmet immediately. The helmet can quickly fill with water and cause you to drown, but when off can help to keep you afloat. If you are able to get back on the ice, push yourself forward on your stomach. It is important to keep your weight distributed over a greater surface area, so the ice does not break. Keep pushing forward like this until you are on an area of solid ice. Once safe ice has been established, then it is safe to stand again.
Although falling through the ice is a great concern, did you know approximately half of all ice fishing related injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic News Network, involve broken bones, sprains, and strains. More than 33% of these injuries were related to others such as abrasions, cuts, and fish-hook related incidents. Some of these accidents may be less or more severe than others. However, help could be far away and that may be time you do not have. In this case, an emergency medical kit could make a huge difference...
This kit should be kept in a designated area that is easy to access in the event of an emergency. Make sure everyone is informed of the location of this kit incase it is needed. This kit should include items such as antiseptic wipes, alcohol prep pads, triple antibiotic ointment, tri-cut adhesive tape, sterile gauze, band aids, disposable gloves, a tweezer, wire scissors, pain relief tablets, a CPR mask, hand sanitizer, burn aid dressing, blood stopper compress, latex tourniquet, and a multi-purpose splint. You may consider adding additional items to this kit depending on your needs, but make sure you have one while on the ice. You never know when you will need to use it.
As most people are aware of the previously mentioned dangers of ice fishing, many don’t consider the possibility of fire and burns. But, according to the Mayo Clinic News Network, burns are just as common and harmful as falling through the ice. These fires are typically not discussed, and happen far too often. The cause of these fires is typically due to small propane heaters, space heaters, small bonfires, and even tailgate-style cookstoves for example.
Space heaters, in particular, are dangerous because they are prone to tip-overs or being left on too long. If tipped, and hot, the heater can easily ignite materials near it. To ensure your safety from fire and prevent tipping, it is important to place the heater on a stable, level surface in a safe location. This safe location is somewhere where it is not prone to being accidentally knocked over.
For those with more permanent shelters and using small propane heaters, fire is just as much of a risk as space heaters. However, in addition to the risk of fire, you also pose the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if there is not proper ventilation. Make sure all fumes are directed away and can’t enter the shelter through any opening to ensure your safety and others.
If you keep a heater or use a small grill in your shelter, make sure to not leave them on or unattended. When selecting a heater, be sure to choose one that will help minimize the risk of fire. We recommend staying away from any with exposed heating coils and opting for a heater with an auto-off feature. This feature is great because once a certain temperature is reached, they will automatically turn off. Another great feature we love is the auto-off safety switch, so if your heater were to get tipped it will automatically shut off right away.
But even when being careful, and having these safety features, fires can still occur. That is why you need to have an extinguisher like STOP-FYRE in an easily accessible location. If a fire is going to happen, it will be quick. You need STOP-FYRE within 6 seconds to prevent a fire tragedy from happening, which is why it is extremely important to have STOP-FYRE with you on the ice. By the time you may make it to your vehicle and back, the fire could be well out of control. All of your equipment, and even lives, could be easily hurt or lost.
Avoid a catastrophe and don’t become another fire statistic. Be prepared for a fire emergency with STOP-FYRE. You never know when a fire will happen to you, or those you love. But you can prepare, prevent, and minimize the damage with an extinguisher like STOP-FYRE.