Crawl, Don't Walk
The most important self-rescue tool for your ice-fishing jacket is a pair of ice picks. They are easily made by pounding nails into the ends of two 6-inch sections of wooden dowel (cut off the nail heads, sharpen the ends, and cover with corks when carrying). If you do fall through, turn around, face the ice you just crossed, and use the picks to claw yourself on top. Distribute your weight as widely as possible by rolling and crawling to thicker ice. If your companion falls through, toss him an empty Clorox bottle or a piece of wood tied to a 50-foot rope. Rope should be a standard part of your ice-fishing kit, but if you don't have any, try dragging a dead tree or very long branch from the shore, lying down to distribute your weight, and pushing it toward the victim. But if you approach too closely, you're running a grave risk of turning one man's potential tragedy into the certain death of two. It's safer to call 9-1-1 and hope help arrives in time.