A series of pictures of a person walking atop the ice-covered Mill Pond drew interest Tuesday.
Saline resident Glena Lilley posted pictured which appeared to show the person crossing the pond from the eastern shore, heading toward the dam, and then turning back.
Watching the person cross the pond was a nerve-wracking experience, Lilley said.
But is it safe to walk the ice at Mill Pond? Is it legal?
Saline Police Chief Jerrod Hart said he wasn’t that walking on the ice-covered pond broke any laws. Still, he said, calling the police department’s non-emergency line (734-429-7911) is advisable.
“I’m not sure it would count as trespassing,” Hart said. “But we’d come out and talk to the person and check on their well-being.”
Did that person risk their safety by walking across the pond? It’s difficult to say.
Saline Fire Chief Craig Hoeft said that out in the middle of the pond, it can get pretty deep.
“We trained out there last year. It can be 15-20 feet deep and way over your head,” Hoeft said.
Hoeft said that falling through the ice in most parts of the river wouldn’t present much danger. In most areas, the Saline River is just a couple feet deep. But falling through the ice in deeper parts of the pond would be dangerous, Hoeft said.
“If you fell through, you’d have to pull yourself out. And you might break more ice. You’ll only last so long before you go into hypothermia,” Hoeft said.
It’s unclear how thick the ice is on the pond. MSU Extension author Ron Kinnunen suggests nobody should venture out on any ice when it is less than two inches thick.
According to the DNR, you can’t always tell the strength of the ice by its look, thickness or the temperature.
Here are some quick things to look for when venturing on ice:
- Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, and is very porous and weak.
- Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice.
- If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.
The most recent DNR weekly fishing report states “ice is finally starting to form in the southern portions of the state by has quite a bit to go.”
Saline resident Carl Fresno has a small pond that’s 15 feet dep and said he would not walk on it under current conditions.
“My pond doesn't have a current and I wouldn't trust the thickness of the ice yet - not until several weeks of 'very cold' temps. It’s been way too warm. As for Mill Pond, there is a current (hence the dam) and that slows the accumulation of ice,” Fresno said.
Fresno said a person walking on Mill Pond’s ice risks falling through and putting lives of emergency responders in danger. He wondered if there are “keep off the ice” signs around the pond.
There are signs around the pond warning people against swimming, wading, ice fishing and ice skating.