Stay safe in the forest and on the ice
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s lakes and streams will be popular places to be for winter activities after a few more days and nights of winter temperatures.
Whether an ice skater or angler or planning to cross a river or stream on skis or a snowmobile, a little pre-planning can go a long way toward making winter outings safe and enjoyable.
Ice can be deceptive. There is no way to tell by looking at or stomping on the ice or by consulting the weather forecast if it is safe to cross, skate or fish. Even on the same body of water, ice strength can vary.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources do not monitor ice conditions.
Check with a local bait shop, fishing club or resort to find out about the most up-to-date information on lakes, rivers and streams in their areas. They can tell which water bodies are safe and which are dangerous.
Here are a few more winter and ice safety tips:
• Wear proper clothing, bring plenty of snacks and water and make sure companions are prepared. Bring a back-up pair of gloves or mittens. Wear ice creepers on boots which may help to prevent slips on the ice.
• Do not travel in unfamiliar territories at night.
• Let others know about the outing and the possible return time.
• Bring a cell phone but be aware it may not work in many areas of the forest.
For those going onto the ice, here are a few more safety recommendations from the DNR:
• Currents found in inlets, outlets or narrows may not freeze enough to carry a person or vehicle.
• According to the DNR, clear ice is generally stronger than ice with snow on it or bubbles in it.
• Be on the lookout for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These could be camouflaging thin ice or open water.
• Bring along safety gear such as ice claws or picks, a cellphone in a waterproof bag, a life jacket and length of rope.
• Put a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket. These can to help get someone out of the ice.
To learn more about ice safety, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at: dnr.wi.gov/topic/OutdoorRecreation/activities/iceSafety.html.
Check out all winter activities on the CNNF: www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/cnnf/recreation