From Indiana DNR
-- Ask anyone who has had the misfortune of falling through thin or bad ice, and most would agree: There is no such thing as safe ice, only safer ice.
“It is a cold and painful lesson that Mother Nature teaches us” said Col. Michael Crider, head of the Indiana DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “Ice fishermen aren’t fair weather fisherman that’s for sure. Anyone unprepared or uninformed is likely have a date with disaster sometime during their ice fishing years.”
To avoid such a situation, Crider suggested following these simple safety rules to minimize the risks associated with ice fishing and other ice-related activities.
--4 in. of new clear ice is recommended for foot travel; if you go by snowmobile or ATV, 5 in. is the minimum.
--Don’t consume alcoholic beverages.
--Never fish alone. Always take a buddy and let someone know where you are going.
--Wear a life jacket under your winter gear. It not only will keep you buoyant should you fall through, but also will provide additional warmth.
--Carry ice picks or ice awls. These will allow you to pull yourself out of the water and onto the ice.
--Should you go through, remain calm. Turn in the direction you came from. Extend your hands and arms, forcing the ice picks solidly into the ice ahead of you. Kick your feet and pull yourself out onto the ice. Do Not Stand Up! By rolling away from the hole, you spread out your weight until you are able to reach solid ice.
--Carry a signaling type of whistle. Using it may be the only way to let someone know that you are in trouble. A cell phone can be a valuable survival tool but only as long as it remains dry. Carrying a length of rope also can be useful.
--Stay away from areas on lakes that have inlets or outlets. Be mindful about flowing water if fishing on a channel between two lakes. Ice fishing on Indiana’s reservoir impoundments can pose particular concerns; pay close attention to fluctuating water levels.
--Remember to think ahead and have a plan.