COLUMBUS — With Ohioans experiencing frigid temperatures throughout the state, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is encouraging residents and out-of-state visitors to be wise while participating in winter recreational activities outdoors, such as hiking or ice fishing.
With the recent cold temperatures, it is important to remember that no ice is safe ice, and any ice that is covered by snow should always be presumed to be unsafe. Below are some safety tips to consider when spending time outdoors this winter.
Winter Hiking Safety Tips
• Prepare for your hike by finding out how long it is and the level of difficulty. Visiting a specific state park? Hikers should visit parks.ohiodnr.gov and select the appropriate state park to see a map of the hiking trails. Hikers should contact the local park office for trail conditions.
• Check the forecast, and have a plan if severe weather strikes. If inclement weather is approaching, reschedule the outdoor activity for a different time.
• Hikers should let others know where they will be hiking and what time they will return.
• Stay on the designated trail, and follow the trail signs.
• Bring snacks and water. Cold, dry air can dehydrate hikers quickly.
• During the winter, a frequently used trail can become packed down and be icy, even if other parts of the trail are clear. Be aware of potential slick spots and use caution at all times.
Staying Safe and Warm While Enjoying the Winter Weather
• Dress warmly in layers. Start with insulating fabrics and use a final layer of protective fabrics.
• Come prepared, pay attention to how you feel and know when to go indoors.
• Keep your head, neck and hands covered by wearing a hat, scarf and gloves.
• Sturdy waterproof boots and warm socks are recommended for hikers, and hand warmers can help on longer hikes.
Ice Fishing Safety Tips
• Ice anglers should prepare and share a “float plan” to let people know when they will be out on the ice, where they will be fishing, where they will park their vehicles and when they will return.
• Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present.
• Contact a local ice guide or bait shop to ask about ice conditions.
• Put a cellphone in a plastic bag to protect it from getting wet.
• Adequately check the ice thickness before traveling onto the ice.
• Dress properly for conditions, which should include wearing an approved life vest.
• Avoid areas with feeder streams, springs, bridge pilings, docks and dam structures since ice is usually very thin there.
Additionally, ice anglers should make sure they have a valid Ohio fishing license. Licenses expire on Feb. 28 so anglers should purchase a new license on March 1. Ice anglers should also know the size and daily limits for the fish they hope to catch.
For more information about dressing for the winter weather in Ohio, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/winter. To learn more about ice fishing in Ohio, go to wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/fishing/ice-fishing.
ODNR also licenses fishing guides in the Lake Erie region. For people interested in going on an ice fishing trip with a guide, go to wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/fishing/ice-fishing/ohio-ice-fishing-guides.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar or naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.