I always suggest when you travel on the lakes you should have a shovel, tow rope, and your cell phone. I always recommend having your warm weather gear along as well.
It is easy to blow these things off when you can drive out to your fish house. It is easy traveling now on area lakes with the wind-polished and packed snow on the lakes, and this is the time when it is easy to slip up with good ice safety traveling practices.
With the snow on the lakes having become hard packed and making for easy travel, don’t get lulled into complacency and laziness. Take the time to properly organize and prepare, still take the right gear! Getting stuck in a snow drift, a weak battery not starting your truck, fuel pump going out, a low tire losing a bead and going flat, or so many other unforeseen issues can arise that can turn a simple trip into a dangerous one out on the lake.
It is also wise to have jumper cables or a jumper box in the vehicle, not just in case you need them for yourself, but out on the lake we are our “brother’s keeper” as well.
By the way, you might as well keep your breaker bar or ice chisel with you all the time too. It is easy to lose track of the number of times these ice safety items have come in handy for myself, or to help others over the years.
Just this last weekend, a group of us were fishing on Lake Vermillion during this brutal cold snap. Not many others were out fishing or snowmobiling, that’s for sure! On Saturday morning we woke up to minus 28 degree temps.
The cabin on the Island we were staying at was warm and cozy with the wood burner going. We were fishing out of portables, so it was an easy decision to have breakfast, drink lots of coffee, and wait until noon to head out when it was going to be a balmy minus 18 degrees.
As we were drinking coffee and looking out on the lake we could see a small SUV making its way across the lake. The vehicle got stuck in a snow drift. It was close enough that we could tell the driver was not dressed for the weather.
One of the guys in our party jumped into action and went out to pull him free. After freeing the vehicle twice, he went ahead and just pulled him about a mile to the public access on the point, and to safety.
The driver was just going to head out to a fish house, had a light jacket, no gloves, no boots. No one else was out on the lake due to the cold front. What would have happened to the young man if we had not seen him? He had already got out and was trying to dig himself out dressed like he was, and got damp and cold.
If you are like the young man last weekend, you not only put yourself in danger, but anyone else that might need to help. It is better to be the person that has the gear along to help, than to be the one that need to be helped because you were not prepared.
Ice situations, and the weather we can have should never be taken lightly. Frostbite and hypothermia are real conditions that a person never wants to experience. Be safe, and make good decisions.