Category Archives: Safety

Safety on and about Lake Champlain

Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming

Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming


Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for SwimmingVermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department reminds the public not to swim at fishing access areas due to safety concerns. The primary use for the fishing access areas is to launch and retrieve motorboats.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department maintains over 180 developed fishing access areas on lakes and rivers throughout the state. These areas have permitted uses determined by law, and swimming is not one of them.

Fish & Wildlife regulations prohibit certain uses of fishing access areas including, but not limited to — swimming, littering, camping, picnicking, making a fire, parking of vehicles not related to priority uses, and commercial activity.

The access areas were purchased and are maintained with funds from the sale of fishing licenses and motorboat registrations, as well as a federal excise tax on fishing equipment, fishing tackle, and gasoline for motorboats. These funding sources explicitly prohibit activities that are in conflict with fishing and boating.

“It’s great that people want to get out in the water, but a boat ramp is not the right place to go swimming,” said Mike Wichrowski who oversees the Fishing Access Area Program. “There’s a reason motorboats aren’t allowed in swimming areas, and swimming isn’t allowed at fishing access areas — it’s simply not safe.”

In recent weeks Vermont game wardens have responded to several incidents involving people swimming at fishing access areas. In some cases people, including children, were swimming right at the boat ramps while boats were being launched, risking injury or preventing the launching of boats.Fish and wildlife access sign Fishing Access Areas Are Not Safe for Swimming

“We understand that people want to go swimming, especially during hot weather, but we are urging folks to swim at locally approved swimming areas,” said Colonel Jason Batchelder. “Finding a safe swimming area is easy in most communities. Just ask at a general store or other place where people gather.”

The fine for swimming at an access area is $162.

Officials Warn About Safe Boating

Officials Warn About Safe Boating

Officials Warn About Safe Boating

Lake Champlain Water Temperatures are Deceptively Cold

Two recent deaths in cold waters have prompted safe boating warnings from officials. As temperatures increase this week, officials are concerned about increased recreational use on Lake Champlain, and are cautioning the public to take precautions.

When a canoe overturned on Malletts Bay last week, only two of the three boaters were able to swim to shore. The third man died. None of the three were wearing personal flotation devices (PFD’s).

“People get lulled into a false sense of security when it may be 70 or 75 degrees out, the water temperature is still 44 degrees currently right now,” said Corporal Michael Akerlind, Colchester Police Department. “And it takes a matter of minutes to be exposed to that water before you start losing your fine motor control and gross motor control, your ability to swim, your ablity to stay on the surface goes away just in a matter of minute.” 

Cold water is usually regarded as any water with a temperature below 77-75 degrees, so Lake Champlain is considered cold water year-round,



Deceptively Cold Water in Lake Champlain

Although the National Weather Service in Burlington monitors the water level and temperature in Lake Champlain and they make that information available to the public on their website,  those numbers can be deceiving.

“Even though we say the water temperature today was 47, there is a lot of upwelling going on where cold water refreshes into the warmer climates and that upwelling temperatures of the lake is only in the mid 30s so there may be one location that is 47 degrees and you just move 5 feet away and the water temperature is 39, so really it is just extremely dangerous this time of year.” said Scott Whittier, National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service, the lake temperature won’t hit the 50’s until the beginning of June. Temperatures will hit the 60’s by the end of June, but won’t get into the 70’s until late July or early August. Again officials say make sure you have a PFD with you, preferably on you.

The water temperature of Lake Champlain is still in the low to mid 40’s, which can send someone into hypothermia very quickly. According to the Coast Guard, the water was just 46 degrees when the man died Saturday morning.


Cold Water Safe Boating Safety Precautions

The U.S. Coast Guard has seen a rise in incidents out on the water, especially with paddle crafts and is urging boating safety.

“Being overturned is probably the most common one you see,” said Petty Officer Chris Bowman. “Things can get rough out there pretty quickly and if you’re not aware of what the weather is, what the forecast is, as things turn they can obviously become very precarious for you as well,” 

According to  Bowman there are precautions you can take to prevent tragedy, including checking conditions before you head out.

Officials Warn About Safe Boating with PFD“No matter what the situation is, whether it’s bright and sunny out, no winds, whatever it is, wear a life jacket, That extra bit of flotation, even if you go unconscious and into hypothermia, it will help you float. It will keep you alive and maybe long enough for someone to come out and save you,” Petty Officer Chris Bowman said. “The second-best thing you can do is know the conditions around you. Know the water temperature.”

Bowman added that you should always have a float plan in place, letting someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.


If the above isn’t reason enough to wear your PFD, you should also be aware that it’s the law.

Wear Your PFD – It’s The Law

Vermont boating laws require that all vessels carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person on board. Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board. Also, children under 12 years of age must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II or III PFD at all times while any vessel is underway.


Be Tick Smart

be tick smart logo


With the return of warmer weather you’ll want to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. More time outside though, can mean an increased chance of contact with an unwelcome resident of the Lake Champlain Basin – ticks.

Aside from being unpleasant, ticks are dangerous due to the diseases that they can transmit. Lyme disease is among the more dangerous of tick-borne diseases. Because tick are most active during warm months, tick-borne illnesses are most often transmitted from early spring to late fall.

There are six tick species known to bite humans in the Lake Champlain region, and five can transmit diseases. But nearly all tick-borne diseases reported are caused by the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick.


Be Tick Smart Blacklegged tick

Blacklegged tick or Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Transmits: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, and Borrelia miyamotoi disease.



4 Tips to be Tick Smart

Here are four recommendations to make you tick smart and decrease your risk of infection.


    • Duration™ Permethrin 0.5% RTU

      Use an EPA-approved tick repellent on skin.

    • Apply permethrin to clothing.
    • Wear light-colored pants and long sleeves.


  • Check daily for ticks on yourself, your children and pets.
  • Shower soon after spending time outdoors.


Be Tick Smart - How to Remove a Tick

How to Remove a Tick
Click Image

  • Use tweezers to remove tick, do not scrape it off.
  • Wash hands and bite area with soap and water.
  • Put clothing in dryer on high heat setting for 10 minutes.


  • Watch for symptoms of tick-borne diseases (fever, muscle aches, fatigue and joint pain).
  • About 70% of people with Lyme disease develop a rash.
  • If you display any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.


* Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not wait for it to detach.


New York DEC Advises About Poor Ice Conditions

New York DEC Advises Ice Anglers and Others About Poor Ice Conditions

Ice anglers and others thinking of traversing the frozen surface of waters in the Adirondacks and other locations should be aware that due to the recent warm temperatures and rain, ice has thinned.


New York DEC Advises Ice Anglers and Others About Poor Ice Conditions

Areas of ice around inlets, outlets and shorelines of largely open water or thin ice should be avoided. Rivers, streams and most channels of moving water through lakes and ponds are also open or covered with thin ice and should be avoided.

Ice near boathouses and docks, especially those using “bubblers” or other ice prevention devices, should also be avoided. Motor vehicles, snowmobiles and ATVs should not be taken on any ice at this time.

No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition of the ice first.

If you plan to go on the ice, be safe on the ice.


Other Lake Champlain Ice Fishing Articles:

Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Skating on Lake Champlain

There are many activities that you can enjoy on Lake Champlain in the winter.  From ice fishing to cross-country skiing, from snowmobiling to skating or kite-boarding – Lake Champlain offers a wealth of outdoor fun to enjoy safely. Here are some simple things to help keep your outing fun and safe.


Important Ice Facts

  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one single person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice might not.
  • Ice rarely freezes uniformly. It might be a foot thick in one place and only an inch or two just a few feet away.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight can also cut the amount of weight that the ice sheet can support. Also be aware that the ice near shore can be considerably weaker than ice that is farther out.
  • Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.
  • Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.


Lake Champlain Ice Safety

Ice Thickness Safety Chart (courtesy of the Lake Champlain Committee)

Recommended Minimum Ice Thickness

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ – Ice fishing, skiing, skating or other activities on foot
5″ – Snowmobile or ATV
8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
12″ – 15″ – Medium truck
Note: These guidelines are for new, clear solid ice.

There are many other factors than thickness that can make ice unsafe.

* White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.


The following guidelines can help you make wise choices:

  • Ice Chisel or spud

    Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel or spud, an ice auger or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit.

  • Avoid driving on ice when possible. If you must drive a vehicle, be ready to leave it in a hurry – keep the windows down and have a simple emergency plan of action that you’ve discussed with your passengers.
  • Refrain from alcoholic beverages. Even a couple of beers are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder and doesn’t warm you up.
  • Don’t “overdrive” your snowmobile’s headlight. At 30 miles per hour, it can take a longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated a hole in the ice.
  • Ice Picks

    Always bring two ice picks and wear them around your neck so that they are within quick reach. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. It’s amazing how difficult it is to pull yourself back on the surface of wet, slippery ice while you’re wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water.

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) under your winter gear. Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. Note: Do not wear a PFD when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle.


Now, you’re ready to go. Get out on the ice and enjoy the Lake Champlain ice safely.


Other Lake Champlain Ice Fishing Articles: