A municipality is responsible to warn its citizens of hazardous conditions (natural or manmade) that exists in the area.
That includes the lake and the governmental bodies around Geneva Lake who should jointly monitor ice conditions and make that information available to people wishing to go into the lake ice at the public access points in their jurisdiction. Whether people choose to ignore safety warnings is their responsibility but making that information available to public at their public access points is the responsibility, of the local municipal governments.
There are two categories of information that should be supplied at public entrances to the lake.
- The first is general information about the lake and ice conditions similar to the information being presented in this article.
- The second is dated current information.
This information needs to be gathered on a regular scheduled basis throughout the winter as dictated by the weather. The location of conditions/hazards should be shown and highlighted on a map of the lake (as seen from the access point) with a written explanation associated with the highlighted item. It should include items, such as cracks, seams, sections of open water, ice thickness at various spots on the lake and any other issues of concern or safety. Some of the data could be checked daily with a drone flight over of the lake; whereas, some checks like ice thickness or putting up warning markers, need to be done on the lake itself. For safety purposes these type of measurements, and putting up or moving warning markers should be a two-person team that is done with a hover craft. Up-dates should be done on a near daily basis and, as weather conditions require. The lake has water safety patrols in the summer and there should be an ice safety inspection patrol that regularly monitors and reports on ice issues during the winter months.
Each year the ice on Geneva Lake is different, with a unique set of potentially hazardous conditions that change throughout the winter season. The shape of the lake, its depth, the springs and the environmental factors of the winter’s temperature, temperature changes, wind, snowfall, rain, etc. all effect the thickness and strength of the ice as well as the location of cracks, seams and open areas of water on the ice. Despite the seasonal differences in the ice on Geneva Lake, there are hazardous patterns that frequently occur and repeat in specific areas of the lake.
For the record: There is no such thing as 100 percent safe lake ice; however, with knowledge and understanding of the condition of the ice, then one’s safety on ice can approach that number.