OCEAN COUNTY – Those frozen waterways may look inviting, but thin ice is a real danger, especially as winter temperatures continue to rise and fall.
“We’re asking everyone to be extremely cautious and avoid venturing out onto the ice,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
A couple of brutally cold days left many lakes covered with a thin coating of ice, but the return of more mild temperatures means that ice is far from solid.
“If you tempt fate and walk out onto the ice, you are not only putting yourself in danger, but also endangering the emergency responders who come to your aid,” Vicari said.
Even if temperatures do stay cold, the fast-moving currents in the bay and rivers often keep the ice thin.
“It may look like fun, but under that thin sheet of ice is deadly frigid water that can kill in minutes,” Vicari said. “It’s simply not worth the risk.”
According to safety experts, new clear ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick to support a person of average weight.
Older ice that has melted and refrozen may crack and break even if the ice is a foot thick.
“Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how strong the ice is just by looking at it,” Vicari said. “Don’t take the chance. Stay off the ice.”
In 2015 a Toms River man was charged with animal cruelty and criminal mischief after the pickup truck he was driving on the frozen Barnegat Bay broke thru the ice and sank, killing the man’s dog.
Anyone on ice that begins to weaken and crack should immediately lie flat and attempt to roll away, back in the direction from which they came.
Ice of another kind remains a hazard on many Ocean County roads.
“We are asking that after a snowfall, everyone please clean the snow and ice from their vehicles,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little.
Large chunks of ice falling from cars and trucks moving at high speeds pose a threat to other motorists and pedestrians alike.
“State law requires that drivers clear their vehicles of snow and ice before they take to the road,” said Little, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Road Department. “Please be courteous to others and take the time to thoroughly clean your car or truck.”