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Common Sense is Key to Ice Safety

Winter is here and skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling enthusiasts are eager to get on the ice, but is it safe yet?

Winter certainly felt like it was here last week and winter sports enthusiasts of all kinds are waiting to get out on the ice.

But Hopkinton Fire Chief Ken Clark said outdoorsmen need to use caution when going on the ice.

"We don't make any recommendations in regards to ice safety," Clark said. "There are just too many liabilities if something happens and we said the ice was safe."

Clark did say that there are some things that you can do to be sure you are safe.

"First off, if you are questioning whether the ice is safe or not it probably isn't," Clark said. "Even if the ice is thick in one place it might be different five feet away."

It is often best to only skate on lakes and ponds that you are familiar with, Clark said. He also said to avoid areas where there may be moving water like lakes and streams and be extra cautious if there has been a warm spell or rain.

Holliston Fire Chief Michael Cassidy said his department is encouraging everyone to stay off the ice completely.

"Based on my training and experience, the only 'safe' ice is that of an indoor rink. The Department recently conducted ice rescue training over the weekend, and found varying ice thicknesses within the same body of water. Therefore, we do not encourage folks to go on the ice anywhere in town," Cassidy said.

For the time being your best and safest bet will be ice skating at rinks including:

  • Edward F. Loring Arena (Framingham)
  • Navin Skating Arena (Marlborough)
  • North Star Youth Forum (Westborough)
  • William L. Chase Ice Arena (Natick)

Later in the winter, when ice is hopefully stronger and safer, some popular skating spots include:

  • Dean Park (Shrewsbury)
  • Lake Winthrop (Holliston)
  • Golden Pond (Hopkinton) 
  • Farm Pond (Sherborn)
  • Louisa Lake (Milford)

More ice safety tips can be found here on the official website of the state of Minnesota, which has more lakes than any other state in the country.

Where do you like to skate? Did we miss somewhere? Tell us in the comments.

I Heart Patch January 10, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Back where I grew up, we'd throw a large rock on the ice to check if the pond was ready for skating. If the rock broke through, no skating period. Simple right? Right.
Mary MacDonald January 10, 2013 at 07:08 PM
My town (I grew up on a lake), had a neighbor who decided when it was safe. He'd go out and measure it in different spots. At the end of the winter, we always had ice fishermen who seemed to fall in, though.

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