Ice fishing isn't all fun and satellite TVs. It can be dangerous if you don't do it right. If the ice is too thin, you or your vehicle can fall in. Other risks include carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly used heaters and frostbite from exposure to the cold and wind. (For more information on cold survival, click here).
When ice fishing, you should dress in layers. Not only will the layers trap heat, but you can remove one piece at a time if you get warm. Start with a bottom layer made from a material that will keep you dry, such as polypropylene. Add a heavy shirt, pants, and socks. Top them with a wool or fleece sweater. Make sure to cover your extremities, which are the first to get frostbite. Wear lined mittens and a wool hat that covers your ears. And don't forget your waterproof boots (which should be roomy enough to fit an extra pair of socks) and creepers -- spiked shoes that help keep you upright on the ice.
Before you head out, check the ice with an auger, measuring tape or stick. The ice should be at least 3 to 6 inches thick to walk on, at least 7 inches thick to drive on with a car and 10 inches thick to drive on with a truck. As you walk onto the ice, make test holes with an auger or spud at regular intervals to make sure it hasn't thinned out. Avoid areas of cracked ice, and listen for loud booms or cracks, which could indicate that the ice is shifting dangerously. Never fish alone, and bring along a rope, blankets and a first-aid kit in case anyone falls in.
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