Ice fishing is risky business. As much as you will enjoy the sport, there is no use disregarding a few basics in your enthusiasm. You must be careful on ice. After all, it is only frozen water and if you are not careful, you never know when it will break. And that is no mean danger, getting plunged into icy cold water with winter clothes on. Drowning is a definite probability. Especially if you are wearing heavy clothes which might get soaked in water easily.
But don't ever try to go fishing wearing lighter clothes. You might not feel like getting too heavily dressed, but while fishing you might get extremely cold. If you feel hot, you always have the option of shedding any extra burden, if you feel cold, you do not have any options. Heavy dressing is recommended. If you have your kids along with you, make sure that they are heavily dressed too. Its your responsibility, since they will have no idea as to how chilly it might get over a frozen water body after spending a certain period of time over it. Especially since ice fishing is physically not very demanding, it will not keep you warm.
A first among your should do list would be that, if you are an amateur, you should not go ice fishing alone. If the ice breaks, you or your mate will at least have somebody near at hand for a quick rescue. If you are alone, let people around you know about your location.
You must be careful not to tread on thin ice. It is easily testable, but often easy things are precisely those that we forget quickly. You should always be careful not to walk on ice that is less than six inches thick. Wait for the ice to get thicker. Do not hurry and strain your luck by doing so. If you are unsure of the thickness of the ice, drill a small hole to gauge the depth of ice near the spot where you think ice is weakest. If there are people fishing nearby, be sure to ask them about the condition of the ice, it always pays to be safe.
It is always safer to walk on black ice than on white. Black ice is of the kind which is created by thawed snow refreezing. It is stronger than the regular white ice which is frozen fresh water.
Another thing which you should always keep in mind is that, you should avoid fishing over deep water. Its not imperative to fish in deep water to get a prize catch, relatively shallow water may give you an equally good haul. Choose a spot where water is about six feet deep. Fish do not discriminate due to water depth. They bite bait anywhere. But you are safer over shallow water.
There are some regular safety features that you should in any case observe. Like, you should always be careful with the fish hook. Do not let it come close to your eyes. And do not get tangled in the line.
If you have taken your kids along, be doubly sure about what you do. Be completely sure about the ice. Since among your equipment there will be a number of gadgets that might be hazardous for children, be very careful with the knives, hooks and other sharp instruments.
For good measures, always carry first aid provisions with you. You never know when it may come in handy. Especially if you have kids around you.