Above / When the temperature drops into the teens, the limestone trail around May Watts Pond is often glazed with patches of ice early in the morning. Slip falls can cause serious injuries. Always let someone know where you’re going before you head outdoors or buddy up when you plan a walk. Safety first!


UPDATE Jan. 14, 2019 / Yesterday afternoon a youngster was rescued from a retention pond in the 1300 Block of McDowell Road, Naperville, Illinois. 

Naperville Fire and Police Department Personnel responded to the report of an 11-year-old child who had fallen through the ice, reminding us to repost this page of ice safety advice. Ice never, ever freezes thick enough on a retention pond to walk on overnight.

Talk to your children, all ages, about ice safety and not walking or skating on retention ponds, rivers or other waterways that might appear frozen. We’ve been adding on to this page and reposting it since 2013. Simply scroll down. You just might find some info that’s beneficial.

Thanks to our city’s first responders for their life-saving efforts.

Click here to read the report with a video of the rescue.


UPDATE Dec. 10, 2017 / With sunny skies and the temperature hovering around freezing all day, chunks of ice and patches of snow topped the retention pond at May Watts Park.

A scroll down this page presents a picturesque history of icy winters since 2013. Considering that Naperville has the winding DuPage River running through it and more than 500 bodies of water within its boundaries, this page has been updated annually to remind residents to take precautions and to have a conversation with the youngsters in your life about ice safety.

Note many of the previous photos featured here reflect few changes from year to year, and could have been taken since the city’s first dusting of snow earlier this week.

Enjoy our city’s natural landscapes in the beauty of winter and the changing seasons in the Midwest. 

Above / Talk to youngsters about ice hazards on local retention ponds in your neighborhood. Stay clear away from the edge of local ponds—always! (PN Photo Dec. 10, 2017)

UPDATE Jan. 5, 2017 / With weather mostly cloudy and breezy and the thermometer hovering around 13 degrees on Jan. 5, 2017, take note of good advice for public safety posted in previous years.

Above / Duck, duck, geese demonstrate that they can walk on thin ice at May Watts Pond for the New Year. Sometimes called “greenheads,” the mallard duck typically weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. Canada geese usually weigh between 5.5 and 14 pounds. How much do you weigh after all the holidays? Always be mindful that people are prohibited from walking or skating on local retention ponds in Naperville. To keep them safe, let the youngsters in your life know about thin ice.  (Link to outdoor skating in Naperville)

A little more than a year ago, the city’s first snowfall on Sun., Dec. 4, 2016, began a season that didn’t attract much snow all winter. In fact, by January 23, snow season was finished.

RELATED POST / The giant snow ball at May Watts Park with a happy 2017 greeting


UPDATE Jan. 19, 2016 / Folks are comparing winter’s late arrival to other years while already looking forward to spring. Today it’s a mere 1 degree. Bundle up. Be safe in the frigid cold while enjoying the unique signs of winter in the great outdoors. And remind youngsters that local retention ponds are not for play.


Above / It’s one degree in Naperville.  Good luck fishing at May Watts Pond.

Here’s hoping you and your family have avoided the 2016 nasty cold and cough season. Perhaps the frigid temperatures finally will kill the contagious germs.


UPDATE Jan. 3, 2015 /  Quite a contrast to last winter, Naperville’s first cold spell got off to a mixed beginning with rain, sleet, snow and ice. Temperatures rising above freezing make conditions messy out there. When the temperature begins to drop as forecast, roads and sidewalks will be slippery.  Follow PN on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/positivelynaperville01) where photos and updates are posted throughout the day.

Cheers to the New Year!  Thanks for reading.


Above / Take steps along the Riverwalk to enjoy a stroll throughout the city’s natural treasure every day. (Jan. 3, 2015)


Cross the Moser Covered Bridge to the Riverwalk and discover downtown Naperville.


UPDATE Feb. 23, 2014: Since early December, way before the first day of winter, PN has been tracking the highs and lows of the season, especially with photos and posts available to visitors who like PN’s Facebook.

Living in the Midwest comes with changing seasons that typically last for about three months each, offering different expectations, rewards and pleasures. The frigid temperatures of winter that first arrived in late November, however, quickly have begun to overstay their warm welcome and spring doesn’t officially begin until March 20!

Enjoy the Riverwalk

That said, every day of the year, the Naperville Riverwalk welcomes visitors to cross over several bridges to enjoy the distinguishing beauty of every season along both sides of the DuPage River. On this day, nearly three miles of winding brick paths in the linear park are cleared for walkers, but some spots along the low flow walks are still icy. Pay attention to yellow caution tape placed to keep visitors safe.


Above / Even in winter, sometimes the frigid DuPage River is higher than usual and plenty of large chunks of ice block low-flow walkways. Be mindful to stay on the winding brick paths of the Riverwalk.


Difficult-to-remove icy patches on sidewalks can throw you for a loop. Watch out to avoid slip falls.

Beautiful neighborhood parks

With temperatures in the mid-teens early Sunday morning, today’s glorious sunshine tops icy, icy, icy conditions as thermometers reached 24 degrees by noon.

Dogs again were sticking their noses up to test the frosty air and many refused to join the owners for their much-needed walks. As much as ever, ice-covered patches on neighborhood sidewalks created hazards for walkers—and still do.

Due to quick thaws and freezes late last week, many drains that worked for water flow by Saturday are again covered with inch-thick ice along the curbs that could add to flooding if not broken to bits before temperatures climb.


Remember to locate curbside and backyard drains on your property. Keep them clear to help prevent flooding.

Going forward, if a drain is located on your curb or in your backyard, be sure it’s cleared of ice and snow.

If the 10-day forecast is accurate, below freezing temperatures and current snow cover likely will linger longer than normal, although it looks like there’s little chance for much accumulation of new snow in Naperville.

Every day is a good day to have discussions with youngsters who enjoy playing outdoors in neighborhood parks about public safety issues that need to be addressed during changing conditions in all kinds of weather.

Thanks for paying attention.


UPDATE Dec. 12, 2013: Because of the consistently frigid temperatures, two of the Naperville Park District’s five ice skating areas are now open for ice skating. Skating areas are open at Nike Sports Complex, located at 288 W. Diehl Road, and at Gartner Park, located at 524 W. Gartner Road.Park District staff released news Thursday that three additional outdoor rinks are being prepared for use at Commissioners Park, Centennial Park and Meadow Glens. To check the status of these skating areas, residents may access the District’s Rainout Line at (630) 883-4242.  Additional info is posted here about Sled Hills and Ice Skating Rinks in Naperville.

Beginning of seasonally cold temperatures prompt ice safety story

Dec. 9, 2013: It’s below freezing outdoors. And snow that began spitting Sunday morning accumulated to several inches. Much-appreciated workers driving snow plows performed extra duty so folks could navigate local streets as safely as possible.

Though Monday began in the mid-twenties, temperatures have been dropping throughout the day. At 5PM the thermometer read 14 degrees and the blustery wind made it seem even colder. Weather forecasters predict wind chills will fall below zero Monday night with below freezing temperatures all week. Imagine the potential for frost bite, so take precautions.


Above / About three inches of snow fell on Naperville Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, making it difficult to tell if the May Watts Pond were frozen. Never step onto snow-covered retention ponds.

Every morning students arrive at the bus stops throughout the city, sometimes running to catch the bus with only one arm inside the sleeve of a jacket. As days dip way below-freezing temperatures and winter sets in to stay, most mothers shiver as they wish all the kids were bundled up for the wait.

A lesson in proper winter clothing with waterproof shoes or boots that grip slippery pavement and hand warmers inside gloves or mittens would be a start. A warm hat or hood, scarf and layers of light clothing under warm outerwear will keep youngsters warm when they choose to play outdoors in the frigid fresh air.


Winter safety for winter fun outdoors

When schools let out for holiday breaks, consider having a heart-to-heart conversation about winter safety, including what to wear and where to play. Free time during breaks creates opportunities to fill the day with things to do—and when the snow falls, fun activities such as building snowmen, sledding, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and skating are inviting. Youngsters will benefit when they go outside to play, especially with good advice and the knowledge to be cautious and to limit exposure.

Just because a child knows more about technology than his mother or dad does not mean he or she has common sense about the great outdoors. Youngsters need to be carefully taught. Simply ask them what they know.

Retention Pond Safety

Retention ponds are plentiful in Naperville neighborhoods, built during the city’s development as a means to handle excess water.  Often reaching depths of 10 feet, some 500 man-made ponds dot the Naperville landscape, creating a beautiful natural habitat for wildlife as well as the backdrop for trails and recreational areas to enjoy every season of the year.


Above / In early December 2013, a thin sheet of ice covered parts of  Lake Osborne,  just thick enough for geese weighing approximately 3.5 pounds each to have a field day.

As temperatures plummet and neighborhood retention ponds begin to appear frozen, take time to remind youngsters who have begun to experience their independence outdoors to never, ever assume the ice on any water body is thick enough to support their weight.

Most of the ponds exist in neighborhood parks where there are local regulations regarding fishing, ice skating, sledding etc.  Special areas are designated throughout the city for ice skating. Be mindful that skating and hockey are not allowed on the city’s retention ponds.

Still, for safety’s sake, it is important to learn how to tell when/if it is safe to venture onto a frozen pond, lake or river. You just never know what’s good to know. Ice that is strong enough to hold an individual does not freeze thick enough over night.


Above / What may seem obvious to an adult is advice to remind youngsters never venture out onto an icy glaze along the edge of a pond, even if at first glance, a pond appears frozen.


Educate the youngsters in your life about pond safety.

Several sources online, with supporting data from the Army Corps of Engineers, have been used to provide information here about ice safety. This link is complete with illustrations.

New ice typically is much stronger than old ice.

Clear blue/black ice is stronger than milky white ice.

Consider a few guidelines for ice safety that could prevent tragedy and save lives.

Again, never assume the ice on any pond, lake or river is thick enough to support your weight. Test it!

Start at the shoreline and, using an auger or drill, make test holes at intervals as you proceed.

Never venture out on ice that is less than four inches thick. If you have any doubts at all, don’t take a chance.

Ice Safety Chart

Ice Thickness  / (In Inches) Maximum Safe Load 
Before venturing onto a frozen pond, always check its thickness. If possible use an ice auger to drill a hole in the ice. If you don’t have an ice auger and the ice is clear find an angle at which you can see where the ice ends and water begins. Never venture onto a frozen pond alone. Always buddy up with one other person or go with a group.
Consider ice thickness:
3″ or less — STAY OFF
4″ — One person on foot
6″ — Group in single file
7 1/2″— Cars or Snowmobile – (2 tons gross weight)
8-12″ — Light Truck (2 1/2 tons)
12-15″ — Medium Truck

If you fall through the ice, don’t panic. Spread arms and hands out on the unbroken ice and kick your feet and work forward. Once you’re on the ice roll forward carefully and slide away from the hole.

If someone with you falls through the ice, don’t panic. Call for help and call 911 immediately. These days, usually someone will have a cell phone.

If the ice is breaking, lie down flat on the ice to balance the weight. Get other people to form a chain of people and work out to the person and hold their hands. Never put yourself or others at the risk of also falling into the frigid water.

If possible, get a rope or chain so the victim can be pulled out of the water.

Once out of the water, help the person remove the cold, wet clothes. Provide dry warm clothes and blankets and go indoors to warm up. If the individual was in the water more than 30 seconds, there is a risk of hypothermia. Be sure to be checked by a physician.

Take Precautions!

If ice at the shoreline is cracked or slushy, stay clear away from it. Never go on the ice during thaws. Always avoid thin ice.

Never venture out onto a snow-covered pond. Snow serves as insulation.

Ice is generally thinner where there is moving water, such as near bridge abutments, islands, and natural objects that protrude through the ice.

Watch the weather. Temperatures must be consistently below freezing for at least a week before ice thickens. Be mindful that ice never freezes four inches thick overnight. If the overnight temperatures have been in the low 20’s for at least a week, the ice likely is safe. Be sure to test with an auger.

Falling through ice into cold water is common— and it’s life threatening.  Take precautions to help prevent a tragedy such as ones that have happened in Naperville in recent years.

The days when kids could watch for flags at the ice ponds that signaled they were frozen thick and hard enough for skating are from a bygone era.

Your own outdoor thermometer

If your household does not have an outdoor thermometer, consider purchasing one to place outside in a shady spot that’s easy to read. Many times the local weather station reports a temperature that can vary significantly from your yard.

RELATED POST: Sled Hills and Ice Skating Rinks in Naperville

Link features “Ice Safety” complete with illustrations

How to dress for the cold