Be Cautious On Frozen Bodies of Water

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By Nick Hausen

FRANKLIN COUNTY --  The cold weather has many ponds and lakes across the region covered in ice, but just because the water is frozen doesn't mean that it's safe to walk on.

On Jan.19 one boy lost his life and another was rescued in Carterville when they fell through ice on a frozen strip pit.

"People venture out on it to have fun," said Rich Good with Franklin County Emergency Management. "I don't want to say that all ice is unsafe, but you need to know what you're getting yourself into on that lake or that pond."

When dealing with frozen bodies of water, one mistake could easily cost you your life. One sign that the ice may be unsafe is the color.

"Years ago, there used to be a saying that "if it's gray, stay away"," explained Good. "If that ice is gray, stay away from it. Good solid ice is generally going to be clear."

Much of the ice in Southern Illinois is gray thanks to wind, ice developing from snow, and thawing and refreezing. If you see clear ice, it needs to be at least four inches thick to support a person, but you can never be too sure.

"Ice is so unpredictable, the bodies of water that we have here," said Good. "We have a lot of strip mines, a lot of strip cuts, deeper water. Deeper water takes longer to freeze."

Many factors contribute to how thick the ice is and the thickness can change over a body of water. While it may be thick enough in one area, just a few feet away, the ice could be too thin.

To test the thickness of ice on a frozen lake or pond, the easiest way is to simply drill into the ice, then measure how thick the ice really is. Remember that rule that gray ice is much weaker than clear ice, so it will need to be thicker than 4".

Marion Regional
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Humidity: 87 %

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