Nova Scotia Hunter Safety Course


Safety Tips for Walking on Ice

Ice Safety

Winter in the Atlantic Provinces can be tricky to say the least.  If you are hunting during winter months, you might find yourself in a situation where you might need to cross a frozen lake, pond, river, or other body of water to continue your hunt or to reach your destination. Crossing over ice is very dangerous and should be avoided if at all possible. However if you do have to cross the ice, here are a few safety tips you can follow:

  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Travel with a companion who can help rescue you or get help if an emergency occurs.
  • Check the weather forecast. Do not go on the ice on warm days or if there is the possibility of a storm.
  • Check conditions before stepping on the ice. Local landowners, law enforcement personnel, or snowmobile clubs can inform you on ice conditions. It is recommended to have at least 8 to 10 cm of clear ice before a person should walk on it.
  • Survey before heading out. If the ice looks spotty, or if there are areas of slush it might not be safe. 
  • When walking on the ice, spread out from your companions to give yourselves a wide berth.
  • Always carry an ice staff, rope, and a cell phone or other emergency signalling device in case of emergency.
  • Never walk on the ice with a loaded firearm. It is best to carry the firearm in a protective case that is strapped to your pack. This way your hands will be free.

SAFETY FIRST! Trust your instincts!  If you suddenly feel that the ice is not safe, you could be right even if there are no outward signs, so don't keep going! Instead, turn back and find another way across.