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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2012-11-30 at 13:33

Use caution on the ice

It happens every year at this time, and no matter how many warnings and precautionary measures are taken, someone or something goes through the ice on some of our local lakes and rivers.

This year is no exception, as once again I have heard stories of people venturing out on the ice way before they should be and taking no precautionary measures.

Mother Nature holds all of the cards when it comes to what we can and cannot do outdoors, as is so evident with the recent hurricane that hit the East Coast and in particular New York City.

There are also so many other weather phenomenons that have taken place and ultimately taken so many lives over the years throughout the world.

Living in Northwestern Ontario has its pros and cons weather wise.

Some may argue the fact that our winters are too cold and too long and many wish to live in other tropical locales.

However, if you look at the positives, the last time I checked we had no hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis that wipe out anything in its path.

On the contrary, we do have mosquitoes the size of small birds, some violent thunderstorms and minus 30 degree temperatures in the dead of winter.

It’s a small trade off compared to what we see on CNN that rocks the rest of the planet.

The end of November and the beginning of December is always a precautionary period in the transition of fall to winter, and pushing the envelope may prove to be costly.

Yet every year a few test the waters (no pun intended) and pay the price.

Every body of water is different in its makeup, and unless you are very familiar with the lake you’re on, it would be a wise decision to stay away this time of the year.

Under current, oxygenation, slush and depth all play a factor in ice conditions.

What may look like a very solid body of hard water, may be a death wish.

Last year a couple of vehicles went through once again on Lac Des Mille Lacs and that has been a tradition every year for the last 10 years.

Folks just can’t wait to “get out there.”

Why? Are four walleye that important that you have to risk your truck, all your gear, a huge fine and vehicle recovery bill, not to mention your own health and well being?

I just don’t get it. But like anything else, it will continue and people will perish unnecessarily and insurance costs will soar because of it.

This year has been unique to say the least as we have had somewhat of a warm fall and relatively no snow until last week when we received a huge dump.

Temperatures have been ­some­what n­or­mal in the last 14 days.

However, it does take some time to form safe ice yet some people just have to push the envelope.

It takes at least four inches of solid ice before it would be safe to support human weight and in my opinion that’s not enough.

Be patient and let the ice form thick before considering taking the first steps out on the lake.

It’s not going to be long before the ice shacks are going to be pulled out onto the lakes and set up in their small towns.

Rivers are starting to freeze up slowly, yet the currents are still strong and although visually it looks safe, it’s quite the opposite.

This can be very dangerous for anyone who wants to play with fire and get too close to something that could sweep them away in seconds.

When the small amount of ice forms, it gives a false sense of safety.

Creeks and rivers can become torrents, and with water temperatures hovering near the freezing range someone who falls in will have mere minutes to get out or be in grave danger.

Just remember common sense will always prevail and if you’re not sure or second guessing yourself, take the safe route and avoid it.


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