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DNR on ice safety as area lakes, waterways begin to freeze

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Posted at 9:10 PM, Jan 11, 2022

BARRY COUNTY, Mich — With the recent arctic temperatures, anglers and those with snowmobiles or ORVs may be itching to get out onto the ice appearing across West Michigan.

We checked in with the Michigan DNR to get the basics on ice safety, if you do decide to venture out.

Richard Cardenas, a Barry County conservation officer, said it's important to have the right tools.

"An ice spud, an axe, you know, whatever is going work to be able to test that ice often on your way out," he explained. "Once you determine that you got good, safe ice in the area, you want to be at, you know, a life jacket nearby. Throw bag, rescue throw disk, you know, is always a good idea to have around just in case something does happen if somebody goes through."

Having those tools and a good working knowledge of how to test ice conditions is crucial.

"What you're going to want to probably see at a minimum is three to four inches of good clear or black ice, and it might have a bluish tint to it as well," he said. "When you see that good clear ice, that's good solid ice, and three inches to four inches is going a be pretty safe to start venturing out on to."

If the worst were to happen — falling through the ice — Cardenas said it's best not to panic.

READ MORE: 'No ice is 100% safe.' Here are ice safety tips amid cold temperatures

"The key if you do fall through the ice is to remain calm... turn around, come back where you came from, because that ice just supported you, right?" he told FOX 17 News."Once you fall through, you're then going to have hopefully quick, easy access to these ice spikes, start stabbing them into the ice, using your arms to pull you out and kicking your legs really hard to hopefully climb yourself up out of that hole and then roll away from the hole and come back out the exact same way you just came in."

Cardenas cautioned to also pay attention to changing weather that could impact ice conditions.

"If it rains, you get any, you know, water on the ice, you know, if there's any standing water on type of ice here, probably my recommendation would be not to go out. If you are spud often. Because, you know, the rain coming down on that ice can be warmer, could potentially weaken it and fall through especially this early in the season."

It's also a good idea to head out in a group or inform loved ones where you are going.

Above all else, Cardenas warned, "My rule of thumb is there's no such thing as safe ice."

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