WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Chunks of ice smash into each other as the Wabash gets closer and closer to freezing over. And when it does, the fun can begin.
"People like to venture on the ice, do some ice fishing, might do some sledding next to a pond or a retention pond or something like that. They may even take the snowmobiles out if the ice is thick enough," said Matt Tholen, a Conservation Officer.
But Tholen said no ice is safe ice. He said some bodies of water will appear to be frozen solid but can actually have thin ice in areas you might not expect. That's why it's important to let somebody know when you're venturing onto the ice.
"We always recommend, 'Hey, take somebody with you just in case you do fall in.' Have a rope back close by, if the person going out, ventures out. You know, tell somebody where you're going to be," Tholen explained.
Tholen said conservation officers advise people to make sure the ice is at least 4 inches thick before heading out on any frozen body of water.
Ice fishing is a fun hobby for Jessica Illingworth's husband and son. She said her family realizes it can be a dangerous pastime. That's why they are always cautious.
"They start on the very far edge and they start drilling holes down and then they measure. I think the recommendation is 4 inches. They don't ever go out unless it's 5 or 6," Illingworth said.
Tholen said if you do chose to go ice fishing or snowmobiling this winter, always wear a life jacket or floatation device. He said wind, flowing water, and animals can keep ice thinner than you may expect. If you venture out to the middle, be sure to keep measuring the ice thickness as you go along.
Tholen said the best rule of thumb is to believe you're walking on thin ice.
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