The Lake George Association
P.O. Box 408, Lake George, NY 12845
The Lake George Association is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership
organization, dedicated to protecting, conserving and improving the beauty and
quality of the Lake George Basin.
SPECIAL REPORT: Winter Safety Tips to Live By
“Thick and blue, tried and true — Thin and crispy, way too risky.”
Safe Ice vs. Unsafe Ice: When on the ice, be smart and be safe
When going out on Lake George
for ice fishing, skating, snowmobiling or skiing, you should prepare yourself as
much as possible to avoid going through the ice and to deal with the situation
in case you do happen to fall through the ice. Here are some do’s and dont’s:
- Never go out on the ice alone. Go out with another person and keep a good distance apart as you
move about. If one of you falls through, the other can attempt to get help. That
person can also attempt a rescue.
- Carry some “survival” equipment, such as a length of rope. Carry a pair of ice picks or
even a pair of screwdrivers tied together with a few feet of strong cord. You
could use these to pull yourself up and onto the ice. If they have wooden
handles, they will float, which is handy if you drop them in the struggle to get
out of the water.
Avoid driving on the ice if
at all possible. If you must drive onto the ice, unbuckle your seatbelt and
roll down the window. That way, if you go through the ice, it will be easier
to get out of the vehicle.
If snowmobiling at night,
don’t “outdrive” your headlight. Give yourself time to spot and avoid open
water, pressure ridges and patches of weak ice.
Perhaps more than anything,
avoid alcohol. Alcohol increases your chances for hypothermia, impairs your
judgment and slows your reaction time.
Surviving an Icy Plunge into the
Frigid Waters of Lake George
you have fallen through thin ice or are trying to rescue someone who has, the
most important thing to remember is: you have more time than you think.
What to do if you fall
through the ice
Try not to panic. Call out
for help only if you see someone. Otherwise, save your breath. The cold
shock that makes you hyperventilate will subside within 1-3 minutes. The
best thing to do is to get your breathing under control and keep above
water. You are more likely to die from drowning than from hypothermia.
Remove any extraneous
objects that will weigh you down. (skis, snowmobile helmet, skates, etc.)
Try to get out from the
direction that you came in. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken
surface of the ice. You will only have 2-5 minutes before you lose the
strength to pull yourself out.
Begin kicking your feet to
get your body horizontal. Then, pull yourself along the ice until you are
out of the hole. Be slow and deliberate to conserve your strength and body
If the ice breaks, move
forward and try again.
Once you are lying on the
ice, DO NOT stand up. Roll away from the hole, then crawl following your
footsteps back toward shore. Don’t stand until the hole is well behind you.
You want to distribute your weight evenly over a wide area to prevent going
If you can’t pull yourself
out within 10 minutes from the time that you went in, cease all attempts. At
this point, you need to extend the time period in which someone else could
rescue you by conserving body heat. The body loses heat much faster in water
than it does in air, so get as much of your body out of the water as
Keep your forearms flat and
still on the ice. Hopefully, your clothing will freeze to the ice, possibly
preventing you from going under, even if you become unconscious.
It is possible to survive
for up to 2 hours before succumbing to hypothermia. In other words, if you
stay composed and keep above water, you have almost a 2 hour window of
opportunity to be rescued.
What to do if
you see someone fall through the ice
Keep calm and try to
keep the victim calm.
Assess the availability
of extra help. If possible, call 911 or look for people in the vicinity.
If you are on the ice,
DO NOT run up to the hole. If you are on shore, DO NOT run onto the ice. The
last thing you want to do is become a second victim.
Use an item on shore to
throw or extend to the victim that will allow you to pull them out of the
water. (Rope, ladder, branch extension cord, skis, jumper cable, etc.) You
can also form a human chain with people lying flat on the ice to distribute
the weight as evenly as possible.
Once the victim is
safely on shore, they may seem to be in relatively good condition. However,
a potentially fatal condition called “after drop” can occur soon afterward.
Cold blood that has been pooled in the body’s extremities starts to
circulate again as the body warms up. At this point, the body begins to
shiver violently in an attempt to raise the temperature again.
Never rub the victim’s
arms, hands, legs or feet, as this could cause or exacerbate the “after
Never give the victim
alcohol or caffeinated products. They restrict the blood vessels and slow
If possible, exchange
wet clothes for dry clothes, wrap the victim in a blanket and get the victim
out of the elements.
Get an ambulance or
rescue squad to the scene as fast as possible.
Is the ice thick enough? Better err on the side of caution
|Minimum thickness (inches)
|1 person on foot
|group (single file)
|1 car (2 tons)
|light truck (2.5 tons)
|truck (3.5 tons)
Sources for ice thickness and ice safety/rescue tips:
Corps of Engineers - www.mvp-wc.usace.army.mil/ice/safety.html
NYS DEC -www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/icefish.html#theice
NH Fish &
Game Dept - www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/Fishing_PDFs/Safety_on_ice.pdf
PA Fish &
Channel Canada -