The recent death of a New Jersey ice fisherman serves as a sobering reminder of the dangers of thinning ice this time of year.
The family of Luther Stahl, Jr. called police Sunday night when he didn’t return home from an ice fishing trip in the Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area, according to The Record. His body was recovered by rescue workers from a hole in the ice just 25 yards from shore. He had been fishing alone.
OL reader Robert Carey, of Chester Spring, PA, recently passed along the sketch you see here. In it he illustrates a simple tool that he says he makes to give to friends and family and anyone else he knows who’s going to be heading out on the ice, be it for fishing, trapping or skating.
As for how to use them I’ll let Robert explain:

“If you do fall through [the ice], grab a hold of the ice picks, which should be looped to your wrists at all times when the ice is risky. As you hit the water, your adrenaline will be pumping–your only thought should be self rescue. Before your clothes have filled with water, you should be able to plant one or both of the ice picks into the solid ice in front of you and pull yourself up onto the ice. If the ice keeps breaking, you should continue to claw with the ice picks until you are on top of solid ice, or at the lake shore whichever is first. As you pull yourself up onto the ice, continue, hand over fist, stabbing the ice picks into the ice to pull yourself across the ice to safety. After getting to your feet, bee-line it to the safety of shore and your vehicle to warm up. Your clothes may freeze on the outside and your body will get cold, but keep moving to safety. Don’t stop or turn around to get your gear. Always have these ice picks handy when you are out on the ice and you will never have to worry about being the object of a recovery mission.”

So there you go. This simple, inexpensive little tool just might save your life the next time you venture out onto the ice.