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Ice Safety Tips
Ice safety is very important as breaking through the ice can be very dangerous or even deadly. The colour of the ice can indicate how strong it is. Of course, in our area the lakes are almost always covered with snow and so you can’t actually see the ice. However, before you get on the ice it might be a good idea to clear a small patch and observe the ice colours.
Gray Ice: If the ice is gray, it is weak. Often it turns gray after melting and then refreezing.
White Ice: White ice means that there are water-saturated snow freezes on top of the ice forming another layer. Often this white ice layer has air pockets causing it to be weak.
Blue or Clear Ice: Blue or clear ice is the strongest. However, its safety is still dependent on its thickness.
Mottled, Slushy or Rotten Ice: Mottled, slushy and rotten ice are all different names that mean the same thing. For this ice, it is not so much the colour but the texture. This ice is melting and slushy. Its strength is deceptive, so be extra careful around mottled, slushy or rotten ice.
When it comes to ice colour, an easy slogan to remember is this:
Thick and blue, tried and true;
Thin and crispy, way too risky
Other factors that play into ice safety are weather changes and the current temperature; Cracks or breaks; Standing water; Ice thickness; etc.
If you want to take your truck or car unto the ice, an extra safety measure is to make a hole next to your vehicle. If water starts to creep through, it is time to move your vehicle as it may mean that the ice around your vehicle is beginning to sink.
The Environment of Canada website has provided a glossary of ice terms and their definitions:
Photo by Nentori (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons