Ice Safety

By Robert Robillard on Uncategorized

Recommended Ice Thickness

What do you consider  “safe ice?”

Every year we hear about people falling through ice and dying. When I speak to people about the safe thickness of ice and ice safety, everyone seems to have a different opinion.

Over the past 21 years as a police officer I have experienced a hand full of ice safety related emergencies.  They are never fun and sometimes turn out tragic.

Yesterday my daughter “casually” told me she and her friends had walked along the edge off Cat’s Pond at Sleepy Hollow Cemetary.  I immediately tried to explain to her that there was no way the ice was thick enough yet and tried to explain to her what ice safety was and what it would be like if she fell through.

Ice Thickness Safe Chart


Do you know what ice thickness is safe or how to check it?

No matter what you are planning to do on the ice – like fishing, snowmobiling, skating or just walking, it’s important to do some checking yourself before you go out on it.Several factors affect the safety of ice, such as temperature, snow cover and currents.  A very important factor with  ice safety is the actual ice thickness.

Checking the thickness of the ice:

There are many ways to do this but being a carpenter, you guessed it, I’m going to check the ice using my cordless drill.

With a cordless drill and a long, 8′ wood auger bit, you can drill through eight inches of ice quickly. Use a 1/2″ or slightly larger bit.

It’s important to use a wood auger bit since they have a spiral called a “flute” around the shaft that will pull the ice chips out of the hole and help keep it from getting stuck, similar to how an ice auger works.

Ice thickness Rules of Thumb:

  • 2 inches – STAY OFF
  • 4 inches of ice for a walking individual
  • 6 inches of ice for a snowmobile or ATV
  • 8-12 inches of ice for a car or small pickup
  • 12-15 inches of ice for a medium pickup truck.

What to do if you fall through the ice:

1. Try not to panic.

2. Turn toward the direction you came.

3. The safest place to pull yourself back up on the ice is the last place you stepped before you went through the ice.

4. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface of the ice.

5. Work your way up by kicking your feet.

6. Once you are lying on the ice, roll away from the weak or broken ice, don’t attempt to stand up.

How to help someone who has fallen through ice:

1. Keep calm, have a plan.  Call 911.

2. Do not run out to assist the victim. You can go from rescuer to victim in a short second.

3. Reach the victim with a long pole, board, rope, blanket or cables.

4. Throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug, or other buoyant object.

5. Build a human chain in which rescuers lie on the ice with each person grasping the feet of the person in front.

Play safe!

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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