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Stay Safe - Check Local Ice Conditions On Late Winter Ice

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Stay Safe - Check Local Ice Conditions On Late Winter Ice

Ontarians, remember to check local ice conditions before heading out onto the ice as spring approaches.

Before venturing out, Ontarians and visitors should check with local ice hut operators - many factors affect the thickness and strength of ice on lakes and rivers.

Ice conditions can be deceptive and variable.


  • Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers, and can be particularly evident at the start of the winter season when near-shore ice is often much thicker and safer than ice further out. Check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you move further out on the ice.
  • Not all ice is created equal. Ice that has formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.
  • Clear blue ice is the strongest. White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice that has a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided altogether.
  • Travelling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can be particularly dangerous and added precautions must be taken.
  • Heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down the freezing process.

Before venturing out:

  • If going ice fishing, check conditions with local ice hut operators.
  • Let others know where you're planning to go and when you plan to return.
  • Warm clothing and appropriate equipment are critical to safety and comfort.
  • Anglers are encouraged to wear a Canadian Standards Association-approved floater suit and carry a set of ice picks.

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