Even Though It Looks Like Winter, The Ice May Be Too Thin!

  • While it is finally beginning to look like winter across North Dakota, that does not mean the ice is thick enough for fishing, snowmobiles and other recreational activities.
  • Remember the dangers of snow cover and ice when you venture out onto North      Dakota rivers and lakes this winter.
    • As seen during the winter of 2010-2011, an early insulating snow pack slows the rate of ice growth on area lakes on rivers which may cause thin  ice well into the winter months.
    • Use caution as snow can mask cracks or weak spots in the ice, such as in the vicinity of springs.
    • Be mindful of fluctuating river levels, especially downstream of dams, as changes in water levels can compromise the safety of the ice.
  • Always carry an ice chisel to test the ice before you go out onto it and be sure   to have ice picks or a set of screw drivers that you can use to pull yourself out    in case you go through the ice.
  • Always pay attention to thin ice signs posted by law enforcement.
  • Do not drive on the ice when uncertain of ice conditions, or at night or when  it is snowing as you can become easily disoriented and drive on a portion of       the lake you did not intend to go. WHEN IN DOUBT....DON'T GO OUT!!!!!  For a   free ice safety brochure, click here.
  • Shown below are the safe ice thicknesses needed to walk or drive various vehicles       on ice.

    Photo Source: North Dakota Game and Fish

    • Avoid or limit outdoor activities during times of extreme cold.
    • Many victims are unaware that frostbite has set in since the skin has become numb. However, here are some warning signs:
      • Skin will initially become red
      • If the situation progresses, skin will become white or a grayish yellow
      • Skin the feels unusually firm or waxy
      • Numbness
    • If you or someone in your party has frost bite follow these steps:
      • Get into a warm room as soon as possible
      • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or            toes—this increases the damage.
      • Immerse the affected area in warm—not hot—water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body).
      • Warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
      • Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
      • Don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.
    • The shading in the NWS Wind Chill chart below indicates the time to frostbite for exposed skin at various temperatures and wind speeds.

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