Wear your life jacket, connect the kill switch, watch out for stumps. Boating safety speeches are expected, but caution and contingency plans are no less relevant when the water turn solid.
To this point Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers safety tips relevant to ponds, lakes and streams anywhere. First, consider that ice thickness will vary from spot to spot, so assume unsafe ice may exist in your area. Four inches is the threshold for fishing safety; five for off highway vehicles (OHV’s). When in doubt, relocate.
Also, watch for signs of unsafe conditions: ice of different colors, water on top of the ice, cracks, pressure ridges, open water and bubbles in the ice. Snow covering ice often misleads. It might lock in the cold and prevent melting, but it could also insulate the surface from freezing. Assume the worst and avoid potential death traps.
A few quick points:
1) Never go alone. And if someone falls through the ice, remember “reach-throw-go.” If you can’t reach them from shore, throw a safety line with a floatation device. If this doesn’t work, go for help. The misguided valor of attempting a rescue by walking onto dangerous ice usually results in two tragedies.
2) Avoid alcohol, which hastens hypothermia, wear a life jacket or PFD and carry an ice safety kit with an ice pick, rope and emergency whistle.
3) If you fall through the ice, panic spells doom through overexertion and rapid heat loss. Stay calm, don’t try to swim and keep your torso as high as possible to maintain heat to vital organs. Use whatever emergency items you can reach and a couple good blasts on that emergency whistle would be a wise first step.