Frozen pond dangers

Ponds and lakes may seem frozen solid on top, but what lies beneath may put you in a heap of trouble.

I recently talked with a Missouri Water Patrolman about how safe ponds and lakes are in this type of weather.

"We like to consider ice as never safe. At the beginning of the ice season, that's when ice is at its most dangerous level, it's not totally formed yet," said Steve Peterson with MO Water Patrol.

Steve Peterson has worked for Missouri Water Patrol for 13 years. He's seen his fair share of people who've fallen through the ice. Missouri Water Patrol recommends there be 4 to 5 inches of solid ice before heading out. Peterson told me there are indications the ice is safe.

"Some things to look for is if you have clear, blue solid ice, that indicates that the ice is strong," Peterson said.

He also advices that you look for signs of weak ice. If you see currents, or ice that looks like a honeycomb, or it's snow covered...those are indications to steer clear. And here's something else to keep in mind.

"On Corp of Engineer governed lakes, where there's a dam and they release water, one thing to be aware of, when the ice forms on the lake, just remember they're going to be releasing water, so there can be a void between the ice and to where the actual body of water meets that ice," he said.

Making a deadly combination. If you do plan to go ice skating or ice fishing, never go alone. That way, there's someone ready to go for help if needed. It's also not a bad idea to wear a life jacket, so that if you do break through the ice, you can stay afloat.

Peterson also told me it's not a bad idea to let a friend or family member know that you're going ice skating or fishing. Tell them how long you're going to be and when you're expected back. In case something happens, help knows where to find you.

Other tips:

-Keep pets on a leash around bodies of water

-Don't take ATV's or snowmobiles out on ice unless it's 5 inches thick

-Not recommended to take cars or pick-ups on ice unless it's 8-12 inches thick