Chief's Column: Beware Of Ice On Grafton Lakes

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Photo Credit: file photo

GRAFTON, Mass.-- Although this winter has been extremely mild compared to years past, many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams have frozen over during some of the colder temperatures we have experienced during the season. Residents are taking advantage of these colder days by venturing out on the ice for skating, hockey, ice fishing and a host of other winter activities. 

This winter, the temperatures continue to fluctuate above and below freezing making ice conditions very uncertain. Due to the uncertainty of ice conditions and the dangers presented, many towns will not sanction the safety of lakes, ponds, streams or rivers that have frozen over.

Individuals should ensure that the strength and thickness of ice is known before any activity takes place. To safeguard everyone’s well-being for the remainder of this winter season, the Grafton Police Department offers the following safety precautions offered by the MA Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) . 

• Never go onto the ice alone. A friend may be able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.

• Always keep your pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt to rescue your pet, go for help.

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. As ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.

• Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weak and open ice.

• Slush is a danger sign, indicating that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.

• Ice formed over flowing water (rivers or lakes containing a large number of springs) is generally 15 percent weaker.

• Ice seldom freezes or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be one-foot thick in one spot and be only one-inch thick 10 feet away.

• Reach-Throw-Go.  If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.).  If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim.  Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.

• If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction from which you came.  Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet.  Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.

By following the above recommendations, you can be safe and still enjoy the many winter activities offered by the great outdoors.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Please remember to keep your parked vehicles off the roads during snowstorms.  Vehicles parked on the road hamper plowing operations and make it difficult for highway crews to properly clear the road of snow and ice.  Vehicles left on the road during these times may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519.  You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com.  Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.

Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.

Chief of Police

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