Few sounds are more sickening than the crackling of ice beneath your feet. Often, there’s nowhere to run, and only a heap of luck can keep you from plunging into frigid water below. But a little preparation might just save your hide. Case in point, the Frabill Ice Safety Kit, a $15 package, includes a pair of handled ice picks, studded “ice-creepers” for your feet, and an emergency whistle.
If you fall through the ice, you will usually float there in the dark, cold water. But hauling your soaked body, with saturated winter clothes and heavy winter boots on, back up onto the ice is the challenge. That’s where the hand picks come into play. They are stout sheathed spikes with retracting, spring-loaded points. A coiled cord between them can thread through jacket sleeves, keeping the spikes at the ready for clawing yourself back onto the ice if you fall in.
Can’t manage to get out of the ice? Good thing the Ice Safety Kit includes a whistle. A shrill toot on the tethered “coach” whistle will get the attention of everyone within a few hundred yards. And for the feet, the kit’s “ice-creepers” are essentially inexpensive crampons that stretch to fit over bulky boots. They have 10 carbide studs per foot for grip when walking on the (hopefully thick and safe) lake ice underfoot.
Frabill is a Jackson, Wis., company that specializes in ice-fishing equipment. These guys know a thing or two about tromping around on frozen lakes. If an upcoming winter adventure or ice-fishing trip has you traversing potentially dangerous frozen waterways, I’d recommend a back-up plan like the Ice Safety Kit. It’s a cheap, $15 insurance plan.
—T.C. Worley is a Southeast transplant to the Midwest and openly admits his distrust of frozen bodies of water.