Be Safe on the Ice

When the lakes and ponds freeze it opens up exciting places for fun and recreation, but also can make for unsafe situations. Please be safe when out on the ice.

Find out where to go with our weekly winter activities report, online from mid-December until spring thaw.

Ice Safety

  • Test ice thickness with an auger before recreating. Four inches of solid ice is the minimum recommended thickness for a single person. Seven inches of solid ice is the minimum recommended thickness for small group. Ice should be six inches thick for iceboating.
  • Spread out. Crowds can put too much weight onto one area.
  • Be aware of changes in ice thickness across a body of water. Perimeter ice is weaker due to shifting, expansion and sunlight reflecting off of the bottom.
  • Avoid areas with protruding logs, brush, plants, and docks. These structures absorb heat, weakening the surrounding ice.
  • Avoid areas with multiple or intersecting cracks, and standing water over ice.
  • Use extra caution on rivers and streams where ice can appear thicker than it really is. Moving water erodes ice from below the surface.
  • Venturing out on ice alone is not advisable. Take a friend along for fun and for safety.
  • Wear a PFD (life jacket).
  • Always carry safety equipment and know how to use it.
  • Check the weather and plan accordingly. Several days with temperatures above freezing will weaken the ice.


Remember these important rules for ice fishing:

  • Know and obey the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks.
  • All anglers 16 years and older must have a current Pennsylvania fishing license.
  • Please properly dispose of tangled fishing line to prevent wildlife from becoming trapped and injured. Please do not litter.

For complete ice fishing information visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission Web site.