Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Caution When Venturing Out on a Frozen Lake: Updated with Self-rescue Video

Anyone who loves to ice skate is thrilled to see cold weather without precipitation. It opens up a whole new world that usually doesn’t last for very long. All too often, especially in recent winters, the temperature goes up and causes the ice to melt, or snow begins to fall and ice loses its luster and glide.

Please keep in mind that the use of the Club’s lakes is, at all times, at your own risk. The Club makes no representation that ice is safe or unsafe as conditions vary so widely.

Fluctuating temperatures require deliberate scrutiny of the ice before you can declare it safe enough to venture out. Most guidance states that ice should be at least 4 inches in depth. Before going out it is suggested that you use an ice pick, spud bar or cordless drill to make a few holes that will enable you to measure the actual thickness. Even then it is important to remember that ice does not freeze uniformly.

January 27, 2020: if you go out on the ice please take a look at this helpful video:

Here are a few things you should know:

  • Clear, black ice is stronger than white or bubble-filled ice.
  • Sub-surface currents and fresh-water springs can make ice thickness variable.
  • Once on the ice, you are safer if you don’t stand in large groups.
  • It’s not a good idea to drink alcohol while outside on a cold day. It increases your chances for hypothermia and affects your ability to react to dangerous conditions.

Take some easy precautions once you’ve determined the ice to be safe:

  • Bring a buddy but put some distance between you. If either of you were to fall in, the other may be able to help.
  • Dress for cold weather. Wear your hat and gloves. Layer up and wear an outer layer that is both wind- and water-proof.
  • A pair of ice picks or screw drivers with a sturdy length of rope between them is easy enough to carry along and could be used to pull yourself out of open water if the ice were to break.
  • Bring your cell phone wrapped in a watertight bag so that you could call for help if needed.

Portions of this information was drawn from the LGA News, an official publication of the Lake George Association, January/February 2011 edition.


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