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Barr Lake State Park Offers Ice Fishing Workshop
Colorado Park Press Release Michelle Seubert, (303) 659-6005,
BRIGHTON, Colo. - Barr Lake State Park will offer anglers who long to feel the bite of a fish on the end of the line during the winter months the opportunity to learn how to ice fish safely on Feb. 28 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the park's nature center. Non-anglers are welcome as well!

Chris Russell, from the fishing equipment maker Eagle Claw, will demonstrate ice fishing equipment and explain ice fishing techniques. The program is open to children and adults interested in learning about the winter outdoor recreational activity. Russell also will provide free Eagle Claw ice fishing equipment.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks Barr Lake with a variety of fish including: channel catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill and wiper and tiger muskie.

In addition to Russell's demonstration, several rangers from Barr Lake State Park will be on hand to offer information on ice safety. For people who ice fish, waterfowl hunt, ice skate and play out on the ice, the basics of ice safety can prevent a mistake from becoming fatal.

Anglers should always assume that unsafe ice conditions may occur anywhere and that ice thickness varies from place to place. Four inches of ice is generally considered safe for activities such as ice fishing and ice-skating. Ice surfaces should be at least five inches thick for snowmobiles and ATVs.

Signs of unsafe ice include: ice of different colors, water on top of the ice, cracks, pressure ridges, open water and bubbles in the ice. Also, beware of ice covered with snow. Sometimes the snow serves as insulation, keeping the ice from melting. Other times, the snow has the opposite effect, insulating the surface from freezing. The best advice is stay off the ice when there is any question about thickness and conditions.

If you do venture onto the ice, remember the following ice safety tips:

* Never go onto the ice alone. A buddy may be able to call for help if you fall in. Also, never attempt to walk out onto the ice to rescue your friend because you might also fall through the ice.

* Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol increases your chance for hypothermia, which is the loss of body temperature, and increases the likelihood of hypothermia.

* Always wear a life jacket. Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) over winter clothing. Life jackets can provide excellent flotation and protection from hypothermia.

* Assemble a personal safety kit. Always wear a safety kit on your body when going out onto the ice. Safety kits should include an ice pick, rope and a whistle to call for help.

* Always keep your pets on a leash. Never allow your dog to run out onto the ice and never walk your dog near a frozen lake or pond without a leash. If your dog falls through the ice, do not attempt a rescue. Go for help.

* Reach-Throw-Go. If you can't reach the person from shore, throw them a flotation device or a rope. If you still can't help the person quickly - go for help.

If you fall through the ice:

* Don't panic. Try to remain calm to conserve as much energy as possible. Try to get your arms onto the ice and kick as hard as you can with your feet to help lift you onto the ice, and then roll to safety. If you can't get out of the cold water by yourself, take appropriate actions to extend your survival time while waiting to be rescued:

* Do not swim. Swimming will cause your body to lose heat much faster than if you stay as still as possible.

* Act slowly and deliberately to conserve heat. Expect a progressive decrease in your strength and ability to move. Make the harder maneuvers at the beginning, while you can.

* Keep your upper body above water. Keep your head and upper body as far out of the water as reasonably possible to conserve body heat.

No one can guarantee you that the ice is safe. The decision to go out onto the ice is personal and should be made after taking the precautions to reduce the risks.