Skating on a frozen pond conjures memories of "Currier and Ives" pictures, and romantic yearning for "the good old days." Growing up in a house with a pond, the weeks cold enough to freeze the pond long enough for ice skating were a highlight of my youth. Every kid in every house around the pond descended with glee, and staked their claims. A "hockey rink" here, a "figure skating rink" there. Remembering such times causes my own wave of nostalgia to break over me.
While exciting and exhilarating, skating on a frozen pond has dangers that a skating rink does not. The following safety tips will allow for a fun experience
Safety tips for skating on frozen ponds:
1)In general, it is a good idea to not skate alone; however, if that is the only choice, let someone know you are going.
2) Before skating, test the ice. A cordless drill with at least a six inch bit helps. Drill test spots in several areas, advancing carefully. The ice should be between 4-6 inches thick. Ice at the edges will be thicker than in the middle, hence the need to test several spots.
3) While skating, carry a whistle or air horn. If someone falls, falls in, etc. this can be used to summon help. A cell phone is a good idea, but may or may not be fast enough, or usable if you are the one who falls in.
4) If the ice has been snowed over, shovel the snow and test the ice. Snow will obscure any weakness in the ice. Cloudy ice, or ice with many small cracks will be weak.
5) Keep a solid plastic sled, a rope and an ax nearby so that if someone falls through, he can be extracted.
6) Wear layers so that you can keep your body at the proper temperature while skating. Becoming too cold, or too hot will render your outdoor skating experience unsafe.
7) Recognize when it is too warm to skate. Puddles of water forming on top of the ice signal the end of ice-skating season.
Once it is too warm to skate outside, wipe off the skates and store them for next year. Do not be tempted to eke out just one more day on the frozen pond. Find a local ice rink with free skate to scratch the skating itch. There is always next year for skating on the pond.