Officials Urge Outdoor Enthusiasts to Practice Ice Safety

With Colorado already surpassing a record number of water-related deaths this year, outdoor officials want you to take extra care as it turns to ice. Thanks for watching the Local News Network brought to you by Choice Building Supply ACE Hardware and the LOR Foundation. I’m Connor Shreve. The state has already seen 41 deaths in our wild waters this year, including one, the result of a person falling through the ice. That’s seven more than the state’s previous record, set in 2020. And it has Colorado Parks and Wildlife urging people to learn how to evaluate whether ice is safe or not.

Folks should always make sure they know the conditions before they go out. Contact whatever agency manages that body of water before you head out. You know, ice really needs to be four inches thick before it’s safe for humans to walk out on, six inches thick, if you’re looking at putting heavier equipment out on that ice. So, you want to make sure that you’re drilling test holes as you’re going out, if you’re going out ice fishing or snowshoeing on a body of water that’s frozen over, and make sure you have a safety kit with you.

Those kits should include things like personal flotation devices, whistles, buoyant ice axes, or chisels, anything that can help you crawl out if you do fall in. And it’s extremely important to be able to get out quickly because of how the body responds.

Yeah, so the human body has several reactions when you fall into a cold body of water. And, you know, in our mountain communities that applies in the summer, as well as obviously the winter. You know, first, you might have a gasp response, where your body’s first instinct is to take a deep breath. And obviously, if you go underwater, you’re inhaling that water, it could lead to drowning very quickly. The next response is, is your body slows down the blood flow, specifically to your extremities, so your legs, your arms, your fingers, your toes. That makes it a lot harder to swim. You feel heavier right away, and it’s just, when it’s harder to move those extremities, it’s going to be harder for you to pull yourself out of the ice, or, you know, just swim to shore.

The same things that make Colorado’s snowpack notoriously unstable, makes the ice here dangerous too.

We have just continuously variable conditions in the state of Colorado. It could be, you know, super sunny and bright at one minute. It could be cloudy and super freezing cold the next. So, when you’re looking at ice conditions, a good indicator of solid ice that’s safe to be on is the more clear it is. That means it was a really quick freeze, it has stayed cold, and that ice is a little bit more safe when the more clear it is. When ice is continually thawing and refreezing and thawing and refreezing, it’s not quite as safe of ice, and that’s when it’s a little bit cloudier. You’ll notice that that ice isn’t quite as safe as some of that more clear ice.

Livingston says learning just a few backcountry safety precautions can keep you safe, no matter what activity you are enjoying.

And when you go out and do activities like ice fishing or you know, skate skiing, or snowshoeing across a lake like Vallecito, you know, go with other people. You know, stay separate and just make sure you’re really always testing that ice for those proper conditions. You want to see those solid, at least four-inch thick conditions, no matter where you’re going. And when you travel with other friends that are, you know, can be nearby, you know, you’re going to have a lot, better chance of surviving if there’s folks that are there to help rescue you.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers ice safety and ice fishing classes, you can check out the website at for a calendar of events and for safety tips and checklists. Thanks for watching the Local News Network, I’m Connor Shreve.

Share This Post On