MUSKOKA, ON-The Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) is offering tips on how to stay safe when ice fishing.

The OCOA said that even though ice fishing is off to a slow start, they want to remind anglers to put safety first when heading out on the ice.

OCOA President Sean Cronsberry said that ice conditions vary from one area to another. “In some parts of the province, the warm weather and rain this winter has delayed many water bodies from creating safe ice conditions. While some areas in Northern Ontario are still ice-free. I strongly encourage anglers who are planning a fishing excursion to check the ice conditions often, plan ahead and be prepared. By following some simple safety measures, it could save your life or the life of someone else.”

Some safety tips to be mindful of when you go ice fishing is to check ice thickness and conditions frequently by contacting your local lice fishing provider, fish with a buddy, be prepared for an emergency by wearing ice picks or a floater/survival suit, and have a whistle and cell phone on hand. Anglers are also recommended to let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return including where your vehicle will be parked, what route you plan to take and any stops you plan to make. Be sure to stay off rivers and away from locks where ice is less stable and remember that ice conditions in areas of moving water or spring-fed lakes can be unsafe at any time.

Cronsberry said that spending time outdoors in the winter with friends can be enjoyable, “but if the ice is not safe, we suggest finding activities to enjoy onshore because making it home safe at the end of the day is paramount.”