Longtime Waterways Conservation Officer Dave Kaneski was kind enough to sit down with TWI Sports and offer some invaluable advice. Here's how to have fun and stay safe on the Wayne County ice.
If there’s one thing Dave Kaneski is passionate about, it’s keeping people safe in the great outdoors.
A Waterways Conservation Officer for the PA Fish &?Boat Commission, Dave boasts more than a decade of experience dealing with the unique challenges of local geography.
According to commission estimates, there are more than 10,000 bodies of open water in Wayne County...each of which presents an opportunity for fun or for danger.
“Typically, we have about a three month window for ice in Wayne County,”?Kaneski told TWI Sports. “I’ve seen ice as early as mid-November during bear season and I’ve seen it last into April. A normal year generally has ice from January until March.”
Dave doesn’t want to discourage anyone from going outside in the winter.
However, he hopes folks will take a few simple precautions before heading out into the wintry landscape.
“We want everybody to have a good time,”?he said. “At the same time, we want to avoid any kind of senseless tragedy.”
Rule No. 1 is a two parter:?never venture onto the ice alone and always tell someone where you’re going.
Bring a cell phone if you can and wear some sort of personal flotation device.
In addition, a simple set of ice awls can be the difference between life and death on the ice.
Over the course of his career with the Fish &?Boat Commission, Kaneski has learned from the mistakes of others. He offers invaluable advice on surviving a fall through the ice.
“If you do go through, the most important thing to do is stay calm,”?he said. “Generally speaking, you have anywhere from five to 45 minutes before you’re completey impaired.”
That time is precious.
“If you’re alone and can’t get out, conserve heat and energy as best you can...and call for help.”
Bystanders who witness someone go in should fight the natural urge to rush out onto the ice and help.
Chances are, the added weight will lead to another person in the water.
“Call 911 immediately,” Dave said. “There are professionals out there trained to deal with exactly this type of situation.”
If you do fall through and manage to escape, get to your vehicle and turn on the heat. Try to warm up steadily, but gradually.
“Do not go inside and jump in a hot shower right away,” Kaneski said. “You don’t want that ice-cold blood pumping like crazy to your heart. That’s a recipe for all kinds of bad things.”
Adhering to a few simple rules can help you avoid an unwelcome dip in the icy waters.
Ice near inlets and outlets are notoriously unsafe.
Moving water equals thin ice. In addition, ice with a milky white or honeycomb appearance in usually unreliable.
The safest ice is almost solid black, indicating an almost instantaneous, one night quick-freeze.
Thickness of ice is a decent indicator of strength, but it isn’t foolproof. At least four inches of ice is recommended for most winter activities.
Fishermen are urged not to bring vehicles out onto the ice. Not only is it illegal in PA, but it’s an incredibly risky proposition.
“Most years, we see at least a couple of instances where a snowmobile or a 4-wheeler goes through the ice,”?Kaneski said. “Taking a vehicle out there is very, very risky.”
Ice fishing is a popular sport in Wayne County, but consuming alcohol to stay warm is almost always a very bad idea.
“If you’ve been drinking and go in the water, you’re chances for survival take a big hit,” Kaneski said. “You might feel warmer, but in actuality your body is cooling off much quicker...you just don’t realize it.”
For further information about ice safety, please visit the PA Fish &?Boat Commission website: www.fishandboat.com.