Written by Industry Expert, Gavin Ferris, Ecologist
My cousins, brother, and I watched the old Farmall tractor putter out onto the ice. When it stopped at the center of the farm pond, my uncle climbed down from the seat, walked around, and jumped up and down in a few places. He then struck the ice several times with a golf club, returned to the tractor, and drove back off of the ice. Having supported the weight of the farm tractor and my uncle’s frame, and having withstood the savage blows he rained upon it, the ice was declared to be safe and we were allowed to start skating. I never did ask how he planned to get the tractor out of the pond if the ice had given way.
Venturing onto a frozen body of water is a dangerous enterprise, and should only be attempted when the ice is known to be thick, strong and solid. Even then, it is imperative to consider liability issues, emergency plans and preparation. Right now, we are seeing temperatures that are colder than usual. As a result, many ponds that usually freeze only lightly, if at all, now have a thick layer of ice over their surfaces. This may seem like an ideal time for neighborhood skating parties and impromptu outdoor hockey games, but I urge you to take extreme caution and think carefully before you let people out onto the ice.