DEM: Don't judge ice by its appearance

It may be bitterly cold, but environmental officials in Rhode Island have some important advice before anyone goes out on the ice.

The state Department of Environmental Management does regular testing of three bodies of water in the state: Lincoln Woods State Park, Meshanicut State Park in Cranston and Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick.

Testing done Tuesday in Lincoln showed 5 inches of ice along the shore, which is not thick enough to allow skating.

The DEM said people have to be very careful because when it comes to safe ice, looks can be deceiving.

"Ponds freeze at various different rates. The only way to find out if the ice is safe is to physically check the ice. At DEM, we recommend that the ice has uniform thickness of 6 inches before it's safe for skating or group activities. Don't assume the ice is safe by its visual appearance," John Faltus of the DEM said Tuesday.

Information about the safety of ice at the three locations DEM monitors is available at a new telephone information line at 401-667-6200 or the website.