Ocean County Press Release

WHILE THE WINTER'S unusually cold temperatures have left many Ocean County waterways covered in ice, officials warn that much of that ice may not be as thick and safe as it appears.

"We're asking everyone to be extremely cautious and avoid venturing out onto the ice," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.

Vicari said previous experience has shown that many times, the ice on lagoons, rivers, lakes and the bay can remain thin, even after an extended cold spell.

"If you tempt fate and walk out onto the ice, you are not only putting yourself in danger, but also endangering the emergency responders who come to your aid," Vicari said.

Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public safety, said the fast-moving currents in the bay and rivers often keep the ice thin.

The ice may be especially appealing to younger children, who may not have experienced such a cold winter before.

"It may look inviting, but under that thin sheet of ice is deadly frigid water that can kill in minutes," Kelly said. "It's simply not worth the risk."

Ice-skating and ice fishing is not permitted in any of the 27 parks operated by the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Forecasters are predicting a warming trend over the next couple of days with temperatures rising into the mid 40s, meaning the ice will become even more of a hazard.

"Warmer weather means more people will be outside," Vicari said. "It also means the ice will be melting and weakening."

According to safety experts, new clear ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick to support a person's weight.

Older ice that has melted and refrozen may not support a person even if the ice is a foot thick.

"Unfortunately, there's no way to tell how strong the ice is just by looking at it," said Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy. "Don't take the chance, stay off the ice."

If you are on ice that begins to weaken and crack, immediately lie flat and attempt to roll away, back in the direction from which you came.

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