Despite cold, ice safety is still a concern

Published on Monday, 15 January 2018 22:05
Written by LISA BACKUS


NEW BRITAIN - Area residents are urged to pay attention to ice thickness and city regulations when considering ice skating or fishing on ponds or lakes.

New Britain does not allow skating or ice fishing on any city-owned property, said Fire Capt. Michael Berry, assigned to the training division, which reviews ice water rescue techniques yearly with all firefighters.

“We haven’t had to rescue anyone in recent memory. Our residents are pretty good about staying off the ice,” Berry said.

Residents are allowed to fish at Batterson Park Pond on the Farmington-New Britain line and Silver Lake in Berlin, both state-owned.

But according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, ice is never considered 100 percent safe and it’s hard to tell if ice is thick enough to hold weight by its appearance alone.

“Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not,” according to instructions on the state DEEP website.

White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new, clear ice, the agency said.

The minimum thickness for new ice is 4 inches to support people and 5 to 7 inches to support snowmobiles. People should stay off ice that is less than 4 inches thick, the DEEP said.

The ice can be thick in one area of a lake or pond but not in another, state officials said.

People who want to skate or fish should always bring a cell phone and tell someone of their plans in advance, state officials said.

Residents should use caution venturing out on the ice and call for help immediately if they spot an animal or a person fallen through, Berry said.

“Call 911 as soon as possible,” he said. “You want to get us moving as quickly as possible.”

The fire department has ice rescue suits and an ice sled, Berry said.

“If you see a person or an animal who has fallen through call 911,” Berry said, “you have the potential to become a victim yourself if you try to rescue them.”

Some area towns, such as Berlin, sanction skating on municipal lakes and ponds. But residents should pay close attention to posted signs or call the town’s Parks and Recreation Department to see if the ice is safe.

Skating is allowed at Willard Pond, Hubbard Pond and Paper Goods Pond when the ice is thick enough to support weight.

As of Monday, there was no skating at any Berlin pond until further notice, according to the town’s Parks and Recreation information line.

Residents can call the line at 860-828-7100 to get updates

Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, New Britain on Monday, 15 January 2018 22:05. Updated: Monday, 15 January 2018 22:07.