From the Montcalm County Neighborhood Watch
With fluctuating temperatures this season, ice on area lakes has not had an opportunity to freeze to a safe thickness. A few precautions and safe habits may prevent a tragedy.
Observe the ice
Look for cracks, breaks, weak spots, depressions, or abnormal surfaces. Avoid going out on the ice, if you see flowing water near or at the edges of the ice or ice that appears to have thawed and refrozen. Ice covered by snow should always be presumed unsafe.
Know what the color means
Color alone should not be solely relied upon. Light gray to dark black means ice is melting. White to opaque ice means that water-saturated snow has frozen on top of ice, forming another thin ice layer, which generally means the ice is weak. Blue to clear indicates the ice is at its highest density and very strong. Clear ice is the strongest.
Test the thickness
Four inches of ice will generally hold an average-sized person on foot. Snowmobiles and ORVs need at least eight inches of solid, consistent ice. When testing ice take at least one other person with you. Also wear a flotation device and use ropes that others can pull on if something goes wrong.