Safety officials urge snowmobile caution amid stretch of mild weather followed by heavy snow

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With recent mild weather and fresh snow, it's likely ice thickness across a lake will not be uniform and should be routinely checked, safety officials urge. (Courtesy photo)

CONCORD - With a winter storm now upon us, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Law Enforcement Division is taking the opportunity to remind snowmobilers to use caution when riding on lakes and ponds. Recent warming trends and thaws, as well as rain, have caused ice conditions to deteriorate, especially along shorelines. New snowfall can hide thin ice and open water; never venture onto lakes or ponds unless you are absolutely certain of a safe route across the frozen surface. Never trust the judgment of other snowmobilers by simply following their snowmobile tracks across ice. Ice conditions can be unpredictable, especially this late in the season.
"It is imperative that you personally check the ice thickness on a waterbody as you venture out on foot or before riding out on a snowmobile or Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle," said Captain Dave Walsh, who coordinates OHRV Enforcement and Safety Education for Fish and Game. "Do not assume that just because the ice is safe in one location that it will be safe 100 yards farther away. If you don't know, don't go."
Walsh adds that you should also be sure to bring along a rescue rope, ice picks, and a personal flotation device such as a float coat or conventional life preserver.
Because recent ice conditions have been unpredictable and lack uniformity, please do not drive vehicles onto the ice. Those on foot should carefully assess ice safety before venturing out by using an ice chisel or auger to determine ice thickness and condition. Continue to do this as you get further out on to the ice, because the thickness of the ice will not be uniform all over the waterbody.

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