What if… You fall through the ice?
Don’t panic. Turn around to face where you fell in. Put out your arms and try and claw your way up over the edge of the ice, kicking your legs to propel you forward. Break away thin ice as you travel forwards. When you reach thicker, unbreakable ice start to pull yourself out. (Ice fisherman often carry nails to help them claw their way across the ice.) If you don’t have these, use your hands to pull yourself up onto your belly. Don’t try to stand here but roll away until you are on solid ice. Blue ice is usually more solid than gray or dirty colored ice which may be soft. If you see someone fall through the ice don’t make the mistake of running to them. Throw them a rope, or pole, or line and pull them out from a safe distance away.
Remember – no ice is safe. And there are no rules. Ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and there may be factors like underwater springs or river currents to consider. These will affect the depth of ice. Avoid ice near shore, around streams, or near running water. River ice is highly unpredictable as currents can erode it inconsistently, one area may be fine, but just a step away can be deadly. Devices such as ice spud bars and augers can test the ice ahead of you. Always ask the locals for an ice update before you venture on to any frozen water.