Observe these rules for late-season ice
You might consider this the two-minute warning for a winter’s ice-fishing season.
Most low-elevation ponds are clear of ice or nearly so, while lakes such as Rifle Gap and Blue Mesa reservoirs might have another month or more of decent ice.
In some cases, the hardest part is getting past the open water along the margins and reaching the thick ice.
Avoid ice that looks cloudy, shows large cracks or is filled with bubbles and always punch holes as you go to monitor ice thickness.
Officials from Colorado State Parks remind outdoor enthusiasts that ice conditions vary every day in the spring, so always assume that unsafe ice conditions may occur anywhere and that ice thickness varies from place to place.
The rule is 4 inches of ice generally (remember that term) is considered safe for ice fishing and ice-skating while snowmobiles and ATVs need at least 5 inches of ice.
The best advice? Stay off the ice when there is any question about thickness and conditions.
A few late-season ice rules, courtesy of Colorado State Parks:
Never go onto the ice alone.
Always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) over winter clothing.
Assemble a personal safety kit, including an ice pick, rope and a whistle to signal for help.
Always keep your pets on a leash. If your dog falls through the ice, don’t try a rescue, go for help.
Remember “Reach-Throw-Go.” If you can’t reach the person from shore, throw them a flotation device or a rope. If you can’t help the person quickly, go for help.
Finally, should the worst happen and you do fall through the ice, remember these tips:
Don’t panic. Try to get your arms onto the ice and kick as hard as you can with your feet to help lift you onto the ice, and then roll to safety.
Do not swim. Swimming causes your body to lose heat much faster than if you stay as still as possible.
Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat.