The rain we had a few days ago, was somewhat of a warning to all of us, as to what we have to look forward to in the upcoming months. Icy road conditions and icy parking lots hamper both our driving, as well as our walking across parking lots. There are several things we can do this year to make this winter safer and better for all of us. There are several items for sale that can greatly reduce, or prevent, injuries caused by people (especially our elderly) falling on ice.
If you are walking on the ice regularly while ice fishing or simply walking across a parking lot, there are many types of ice cleats available to help keep you in the upright position. Trustworthy Hardware in Soldotna has a variety of ice cleats available at a reasonable price. Most of the senior citizens I talked to about wearing ice cleats had the same reason for not wearing them. It is difficult for them to put them on, and take them off each time. I agree, that can be a problem, however; it is a whole lot more of a hassle, and certainly more painful, to be lying in a hospital recovering from a broken hip!
Each year hospitals in the United States treat thousands from injuries caused by people falling on ice, especially our elderly. One of the most common injuries doctors treat as a result of this, are severe hip injuries, which in a lot of situations could have been avoided. If you are having trouble getting those cleats on, help each other. Plan for a few extra minutes each day for everything you do, especially if you're dealing with icy road conditions hampering your travel.
Often times I see the parking lots are full, which causes people to walk further than normal to get to the store. In most cases, everyone in the car ends up walking from their parking spot, instead of dropping some passengers off at the door, and the driver going to park the vehicle. By eliminating the distance you have to walk, or the amount of time you spend on ice, you can also help reduce the chance of falling and being injured.
There are many areas in which we can all practice safety while being out ice fishing. Always carry a dry bag with extra clothes along on your outing, in case there was an incident where someone ended up going through the ice or got wet. It might not even be a member of your crew that needs dry clothes.
Also, throw in a rope that you should have handy if someone falls through some bad ice. If you tie a big loop in each end of this rope, you could have the victim put the loop around his torso, and under his arms, rather than try to hang onto it with cold freezing hands. If you had one of those survival suits that just hangs in your garage like mine does, think how nice it would be to crawl into that before going to rescue someone from freezing water.
One of the most important pieces of ice fishing gear that hardly anyone ever takes with them, are the tools you need to pull yourself out on the solid ice after you have fallen through either a hole or weak spot in the ice. One company calls them "The pick of life." You can very easily make these tools at home, and they may just save your life or someone else's. All they are comprised of is a wooden handle with a spike coming out of the center of it. It is designed so that you can drive the spike into the ice and use the handle to pull yourself back out onto the hard ice. Imagine trying to pull yourself out with your finger nails? For those that have had to do that, it was usually very ugly and involved some very sore and bloody fingers if they made it out at all.
We have a lot of new ice fishing gear available now as well, from new tackle, better clothes, and a large variety of shelters. Even though there are a large variety of boots designed to keep your feet warm, I still prefer the good old bunny boot over all the others. I find them second to none and have spent hours and hours wearing these boots in extreme cold weather, and have very few times I have ever experienced cold feet.
Your choice of a fishing shelter pretty much depends upon your personal preference, the size of your family and also your physical ability. If the fishing shack is too small to meet your needs, or is too heavy for you to set up, it is pretty much worthless to you. Try to pick out the equipment that best meets your needs before you buy or build it.
Perhaps the most important safety factor you need to consider is the type of heater you are using for your fishing shelter. If you build your own custom fishing shack, do not make it air tight, always have vents of some type to allow fresh air inside. Putting a propane type or other catalytic heaters in a closed, air-tight place could mean death. Throughout the years, many people have died from making this mistake.
I have used Jiffy Ice Augers all my life, and have drilled thousands of holes with them. They have sold more ice augers than all of the other ice auger companies in the world combined! Since I have had such great luck with these augers for years, I have no reason to change or try another brand.
Whatever you do this winter, whether it is an outdoor adventure or a simple trip to the store, do it safely. Take every precaution necessary to get you back home again, uninjured - so you do not end up spending part of your winter in the hospital. See you next week!
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