BEACH LAKE, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Winter is here, and for many anglers in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, that means there will be opportunities for ice fishing.

While ice fishing is fun for many, there are some precautions anglers must take to have a safe adventure on the ice.

The National Park Service emphasizes that the most important thing to remember when ice fishing this year is the mandatory cold weather life jacket regulation that is currently in effect until April 30, 2023.

No matter your age, the National Park Service urges everyone to wear a fitted and fastened life jacket while boating and ice fishing on the Upper Delaware River this winter and check it often to be as safe as possible.

The condition of the ice and its thickness is the main concern as most bodies of water do not freeze evenly.

Four inches of solid clear ice, or eight inches of white or “snow ice” is the minimum thickness of the ice needed to be considered safe to walk on.

If you’re unsure, the National Park Service advises that you drill regular test holes as you walk, with each test happening at least every 150 feet.

Avoid any ice near moving or open water and any ice that is dark, honeycombed, or porous.

Make sure that you tell someone that you are going out to fish and when you plan to return or bring a friend.

Kids should always be with a parent or guardian when venturing out onto the ice.

If you do fall into the ice, do not panic and remain calm.

To get yourself out of the ice, use safety picks. If safety picks are not available, try swimming out, which lets your body rise to the surface and gives you an opportunity to grip the ice.

Keep your clothes on while in the water as they can insulate you until you are free.

Once on the ice, distribute your weight by staying low and spreading your body out as much as possible so that the remaining ice doesn’t break below you.

If someone you are fishing with falls in, the National Park Service recommends wants you to remember the RTRG.

  • Reach (long stick or fishing pole)
  • Throw (Rope, life jacket, or anything that floats)
  • Row (A Row or push a boat)
  • Go (Call for help)

If you are wet, immediately change into dry clothes and get to warm shelter.

The National Park Service emphasizes that if you feel cold, you need to take proper precautions to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

To treat frostbite, put the affected area of pale skin or exposed flesh in warm water.

Hypothermia can be seen as shivering and loss of judgment and can be treated with warm fluids, dry clothes, a blanket, and warm shelter.

If these problems persist, seek medical assistance immediately and remember to stop fishing if you or someone you are fishing with get cold or tired.