Make sure the ice cover can carry your weight before stepping on the ice. At least 5 centimetres of clear ice is the minimum requirement, but 10 centimetres is preferred for the ice to carry an adult. If you intend to ride a motorsled or a quad bike, the ice must be at least 15 centimetres thick. Only drive a car on marked ice roads.
Share your route plan and schedule to family or a friend. Remember to also tell them if your plan changes.
Proper ice equipment
The following equipment is the absolute minimum requirement for anyone trekking on ice:
- Ice bodkins, either hanging from your neck or in your chest pocket. Bodkins must be readily available.
- Dress appropriately. If you fall in water, your best option is a rescue suit that can keep you dry, warm, and afloat.
- Bring a stick or rod to test the ice.
- Pack your backpack so that it floats. Include a change of clothes in a waterproof bag. Place your mobile phone in a waterproof pocket or bag.
- Also pack a rope, hauling line or an otherwise durable line that you can use to help others on the ice. A whistle may also be a useful piece of equipment.
- Bring a compass and a map of the area.
- Bring a shovel if the ice is thick enough to drive a car on. Snowstorms can happen very quickly and your car can get stuck in a snowbank. Pay particular attention to the circumstances especially if you can’t drive on plowed ice roads. Local knowledge is also important in such a case. Do not go on the ice in poor conditions.
Avoid areas with thin ice
On the ice, avoid spots with a water flow, such as narrows, straits, estuaries and capes. Avoid shipping routes, shoals, reeds and bridges, as well as piers. If you have local knowledge, make use of it.
If you fall through the ice
- Call for help or blow your whistle immediately
- Stay calm
- Aim for where you came from
- Break the ice with your body as much as possible
- Lift yourself with swimming kicks, try to orient horizontally, and pull yourself to the ice with your bodkins.
- Roll and crawl until you get to ice that you know will carry your weight.
- Find warmth as soon as possible
For more information on ice safety, visit the website of the Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute provides up-to-date information on ice conditions, among other things: Ice conditions – Finnish Meteorological Institute