Ice Thickness Chart: How to Know When Ice is Safe | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Ice Thickness Safety Chart

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Know When It's Safe to be on the Ice

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How thick does ice have to be to drive a truck on it? To skate on? To go ice fishing? Before you go out, check our ice thickness chart to determine if it’s safe!

Use common sense on the ice. If you’re going skating or ice fishing with a group, stay off ice that’s less than four inches thick. 

As a general rule, avoid ice that has cracks or ice near inlets or moving water. If you’re not familiar with an area, be sure to talk to the locals because ice is rarely the same thickness all the way across a body of water and can change. If you’re going ice fishing, may also be a good idea to check with a local expert about ice safety. Bait shops or lakeside businesses may know about the ice conditions. Always be safe and don’t put yourself or others at risk.

Ice Thickness Chart

Ice Thickness Safety Chart

WARNING: Always be cautious. If you are unsure if the ice is safe, don’t take your chances!

Exercise extreme caution when using vehicles on ice and go with someone who’s familiar with the area. As the chart above shows, ice needs to be at least 8 inches thick to hold a small pickup ruck.

Also, don’t drive in a group. Park cars at least 50 feet apart or more and move every couple hours. Drive at a very slow speed with seatbelt off and door unlocked. 

Always bring safety gear: A life jacket, ice pick, cell phone, length of rope, and ice auger.

Testing the Ice Thickness

How do you check the ice? Experts comparing it to checking the oil in your car. With a drill, make a hole. Hook the end of a tape measure on the edge and take the measurement. It’s worth bringing an ice auger to test the ice as you walk and move.

See our Windchill Chart for more important outdoor winter safety information!