New Study Reveals the True Dangers of Ice Fishing

ice fishing dangers
Falling through the ice is far from the most common ice-fishing mishap.Courtesy Andrey/Flickr

When considering the risks involved with ice fishing, anglers would be excused for thinking that falling through the ice poses the greatest threat. Though a danger, it's only the tip of the iceberg, and far from the most common ice-fishing mishap, according to a new Mayo Clinic study, published recently in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The study, conducted between 2009 and 2014, was based on emergency-department-visit data obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All-Injury Program, and included information from 85 people hurt while ice fishing.

Of the injuries identified by researchers, half involved broken bones, sprains, and strains. More than 33 percent were related to injuries like abrasions, cuts, fish-hook injuries, and punctures. Five cases involved concussions, appendage loss, or organ injuries. Four cases involved falling into cold water, and four concerned anglers being burned.

“Falling through the ice is the most feared risk of ice fishing,” the study’s lead author, Cornelius Thiels, said via the Mayo Clinic News Network. But burns, he added, are just as common, and rarely discussed. “Ice-fishing huts often contain rudimentary heating systems, and we have seen injuries from fires and carbon-monoxide inhalation.”

Thiels noted that a recent uptick in ice fishing’s popularity has resulted in more injuries. “What is even more concerning,” Thiels said, “is that ice-fishing injuries tend to be more severe than injuries associated with traditional fishing.”

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