Lt. Robert Bryant: (603) 271-3127
      Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
      March 4, 2010
Ice Conditions Very Dangerous

CONCORD, N.H. – Ice is disappearing fast on many New Hampshire waterbodies, creating dangerous conditions in places.  With warmer weather expected in the coming days, the situation is likely to become even more treacherous, according to Col. Martin Garabedian, New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief. 

"We're urging all outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution on the ice from this point forward," said Garabedian.  "We've had reports that ice conditions are hazardous and changing daily on many larger lakes and ponds, especially around inlets and outlets."

Fish and Game is strongly encouraging ice anglers not to wait for the April 1 deadline to remove bobhouses from the ice, and to use extreme caution as they do so.  "Keep a close eye on ice conditions and get bobhouses off the ice as soon as you can, safely," said Garabedian.

With ever-changing ice conditions, it is critical to assess ice safety before you go out by using an ice chisel or axe to chop a hole in the ice to determine its thickness and condition.  Continue to do this as you get further out onto the ice, as thickness will not be uniform over the waterbody. 

Though all ice is potentially dangerous, the Cold Region Research Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., offers a "rule of thumb" on ice thickness:  There should be a minimum of six inches of hard ice before individual foot travel, and eight to ten inches of hard ice for snow machine or ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) travel.  Keep in mind that it is possible for ice to be thick, but not strong, because of varying weather conditions.  Weak ice is formed when warming trends break down ice, then the slushy surface re-freezes.  Be especially careful of areas with current, such as inlets, outlets and spring holes, where the ice can be dangerously thin. 

Tips for staying safe on the ice include:

  • Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy.  Don’t go on the ice during thaws.

  • Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice.  Dark snow and ice may also indicate weak spots.

  • Small bodies of water tend to freeze thicker.  Rivers and lakes are more prone to wind, currents and wave action that weaken ice.

  • Don’t gather in large groups on the ice.

  • Don’t drive large vehicles onto the ice.

  • If you do break through the ice, don’t panic.  Move or swim back to where you fell in, where you know the ice was solid.  Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard.  This will help lift your body onto the ice.  A set of ice picks can aid you in a self-rescue (wear them around your neck or put them in an easily accessible pocket).  Once out of the water, roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice.

Ice safety should be paramount for anyone recreating on New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds.  Don't assume ice is safe just because it's there.

To download a brochure from Fish and Game called "Safety on Ice," visit


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