If you're driving your car (didn't we just say we don't recommend that) safety experts recommend that you drive with the windows down and your seatbelt off. Don't take this an excuse to drive without a seatbelt full time just in case you drive into a lake. Out on the ice you are driving on a lake and if the ice gives way from under you it is critical to get out of your vehicle before it is submerged. A car crashing into water can sink in a matter of seconds.
When the weather is especially cold outside the ice can be rather noisy with rumbling, pinging and loud cracks. Long cracks can suddenly appear across the ice and this can certainly raise your blood pressure. If the ice is thick enough for you to stand on then there is no need to be worried. As more ice forms under your feet pressure builds up. The noise and cracks form because the ice is actually getting stronger.
Another critical point of safety is never go out on the ice alone. You should always travel with at least one other person and you should travel at least twenty feet apart on foot and two hundred feet apart on skimobiles or by car.
If despite your best efforts to keep yourself safe you find that you have fallen through the ice the first rule is not to panic. Your immediate goal should be to stay on the surface, especially if there is a current. If you get underwater it can be almost impossible to find the hole you fell through.
If you're with a friend or a group they can lay down on the ice spreading out their legs and arms to distribute their weight. A group of people can form a human chain, with the lightest person being at the end. The person at the end of the line can reach out with a branch, piece of rope, ski pole, or even a coat sleeve for you to grab on to. Pull yourself up back onto the ice and roll away from the hole until you are a safe distance away. Assume anyone that has fallen through the ice has hypothermia and seek medical attention immediately.
If you didn't follow our advice and ended up falling through while traveling by yourself you will have a much harder time getting out of the water. Get your arms out across the surface of the ice and kick as hard as you can with your legs to get your body up on the ice surface. As you get clear of the hole roll away until you reach a safe distance away.
Like everything else in the great outdoors a little common sense goes a long way. By being cautious and educating yourself you can have a safe and fun time out on the ice.