Keeping safe on Maine’s waters

By Amber Abbotoni | Jan 10, 2018
Video by: Amber Abbotoni
Dale Dougherty, a lake patrol officer for the Megunticook Watershed Association, advises caution when crossing frozen lakes and ponds.

Camden — For those seeking to enjoy Maine’s frozen waters, it is important to remember to stay safe. This means knowing how thick ice is, and whether it is safe to cross.

Dale Dougherty, a lake patrol officer for the Megunticook Watershed Association, said there are two different types of ice: white, soft ice which is not very safe, and hard black and blue ice.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has a printed chart on permissible loads on clear, blue lake ice, although Dougherty said it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to determining whether ice is safe. Here is a table of what the MDIF&W says is safe:

2 inches for one person on foot

3 inches for a group of people walking single-file

7.5 inches for a passenger car (2-ton gross)

8 inches for a light truck (2 1/2-ton gross)

10 inches for a medium truck (3 1/2-ton gross)

12 inches for a heavy truck (10-ton gross)

Remember that the table is for clear, blue ice on lakes, and the strength of the ice may vary. Dougherty also advised keeping an eye out for pockets where it has rained and water has settled into the lower spots on the lake. Snowmobiles tend to break through the ice in such spots. He also said to avoid areas with known currents and flowing water, and of course to use common sense.

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