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Outdoors Glance: Dec. 27, 2018

December 28, 2018

IDNR reminds anglers to keep safety in mind when ice fishing

For those planning to go ice fishing in Illinois this winter, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources wants everyone to review life-saving safety measures before heading out of the ice, drilling a hole and dropping a line.

“The IDNR cannot stress enough the importance of safety when ice fishing,” IDNR Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez said. “Outdoor recreation in the winter can be invigorating and a lot of fun but can turn into a dangerous situation in just seconds. Being prepared and ready for anything while outdoors this winter, especially if you are headed out on the ice to fish, can save your life.”

Those planning to ice fish should stay off of ice that is less than 4 inches thick. New ice usually is stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice might support one person on foot, and a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice might not.

It is recommended anglers carry a rope or flotation device with them to help assist if someone falls through the ice. Wearing a life jacket personal flotation device always is recommended when fishing offshore, including when ice fishing.

For more information, visit the “I Fish Illinois” website’s Ice Fishing in Illinois information guide at ifishillinois.org/programs/ice.php.

IDNR warns snowmobile operators of risks

The IDNR is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to use caution and focus on safety this winter when conditions are right for snowmobile riding.

“Every year throughout the state, our officers respond to accidents involving snowmobiles, many of which could have been prevented had reasonable and proper precautions been taken,” IDNR Conservation Police Chief Rafael Gutierrez said. “We want winter recreation enthusiasts to have a good time while, at the same time, focusing on safety.”

There were 15 reported snowmobile accidents, two of which resulted in fatalities, during the 2017-18 season in Illinois.

In most instances, knowing the trail and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent accidents. It’s also important to be alert and sober. In North America, more than half of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.

While the IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety course, state law requires that persons at least 12 years of age and younger than 16 must have in their possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.

Details on safety course options are available on the IDNR website at dnr.illinois.gov/safety/Pages/SnowmobileSafety.aspx

Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling are:

• Never consume alcohol before or during a ride.

• Know your equipment, and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.

• Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling, such as a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips and flying debris.

• Avoid wearing long scarves, which could get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.

• Know the terrain you are going to ride.

• Be aware of trails or portions of trails that might be closed.

Drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities; when not familiar with the thickness of the ice or water currents, avoid these areas.

• Know the weather forecast, especially the ice and snow conditions in the area.

• Always use the buddy system, and never ride alone or unaccompanied.

• Travel at a reasonable rate of speed for visibility and conditions.

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