thin iceMaine officials are warning people about dangerous thin ice conditions across the state.

Because of warm temperatures this winter, officials say many waterways throughout the state are not safe to hold people on. They issued the warning to hikers, fishermen, snowmobilers and anyone who may spend time on Maine’s lakes and ponds in the winter.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of checking ice conditions right now,” said Game Warden Colonel Joel Wilkinson, “Folks really need to take the time to drill test holes as often as they can and proceed with great caution.”

Game wardens are suggesting that people test the thickness of the ice before venturing out by using a chisel or auger and to continue to assess the safety of the ice as you move out onto the lake or pond. If the ice is not thick enough to hold, turn around and go back to shore or a safe location.

The general guidelines for ice safety are a minimum of four inches of solid ice for on foot travel and six to eight inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. Due to uneven temperatures and high winds, ice conditions are currently very unpredictable

It is also important to remember that thick ice does not always mean safe ice. The varying weather conditions so far this winter make it possible for ice to be thick, but not strong. Weak or unsafe ice is formed when temperatures warm and break down the ice and the slushy surface then re-freezes. Great caution should also be used near inlets, outlets and springs holes.

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