If you are lucky enough to have a small body of water near your home, you have the chance to show off your skating skills in the open air. This can be dangerous though, so before you grab your skates and go for it, follow these safety tips.
Ice is unpredictable in the outdoors and can form thicker in some areas than others. If your frozen pond is covered in a layer of snow, your first chore is to clear it. Without a clear view of the ice surface, this can be dangerous so never go at it alone. Work with at least one other person but never close together. Having a partner won’t do you any good if you both fall into the ice at the same time.
As you are shoveling, keep an eye open for thin patches of ice or pools of water. Shade can make some areas of a pond or lake freeze better then others, and if you are out in a sunnier area the lake could be thinner.
Keep the noise to a minimum and instead listen to the ice as you shovel. As it begins to break apart, ice will often make a squealing or cracking sound. If you begin to hear that, run to dry land. Also keep an eye out for cracks, especially if they are seeping water. This is a sure sign that the warmer water below is starting to make the ice thaw.
Don’t expect your dog to save you. People have a misconception that dogs are able to sense thicker ice. This is true, but dogs are also significantly lighter than humans, with their weight spread out over four legs instead of two. If you have a curious dog, turn on your K9 containment fence and keep him safe at home. If you don’t have a pet containment system like the PIF 300 which is reviewed here installed for your dog, read some reviews and have one installed. With something as dangerous as a lake near your home, you don’t want to take any chances with your pet.
If your shoveling partner does fall into the ice, resist the urge to run and save them. Instead, use a long rope or stick and throw it to them while laying on your belly. It’s the same concept as the dog and four legs, if you spread your body weight out, you will have a better chance of staying on top of thawing ice rather than under it.
Your friend should use the rope to pull themselves out of the water and roll away from the hole as soon as they clear it. Staying on their belly they should work their way to dry land as opposed to standing up and running.
If you do get lucky and your pond is completely frozen over, be prepared for a skating experience like no other. Skating outside is tranquil and calming, especially when it is just you, your friend and the ice. Enjoy this chance while you can, but take every possible precaution before taking advantage of a frozen pond.