Ice skating is a beloved winter pastime around here. Whether you’re packing your skates for a trip to a winter resort or heading out to a local rink or pond, here are some safety precautions and skating tips to keep in mind:

• Dress warmly, but in clothing that moves with you. Try a waterproof outer jacket, warm leggings and one pair of medium-thickness socks. A helmet will protect a  skater from head injury in the event of a fall.

• When purchasing skates, have a professional fitting and getthe blades sharpened. Sharpen blades each winter.

• Never skate alone> . In any emergency, you’ll need someone else’s help.

• Check the ice surface for cracks, holes or debris. At lakes and ponds, walk around the perimeter of the area you want to skate and look carefully at the ice. It should be smooth, thick, blue or clear-colored, with ice that looks at least 6 inches thick. Light grey, dark black or slushy ice is not safe. The ground around the edge of the ice should be frozen, with no flowing water near the edges of the ice. If the surface looks safe, slowly skate the outside area, looking and listening for cracks. Go slow and back away if you encounter thin ice.

• Contact local police or the fire department for conditions at a skating pond. Only skate on ice that is monitored for safety.

• If while skating, the ice starts to crack beneath you, get down on all fours (distributing your body weight evenly), stay low and crawl to safety. 

Basic Lessons

1. How to stop. Stand with your feet together and push out with the inside edge of each blade as if you’re “shaving the ice.” Then try a snow-plow maneuver for stopping. Bend your knees, bring your toes together in an inverted V and push down with your hands for balance.

2. How to fall. Bend your knees, lean to one side and gently go down. To get back up, kneel on both knees, keep your back straight and bring one skate up onto the ice. Then push down on that knee, which will help you pull yourself up.

  3. Gliding. Lift one foot, put it down, lift the other – all to get a feel for the blade on the ice and for shifting your weight. Holding your hands out in front and pushing down will help maintain balance. Start to glide forward, alternately on one foot, as you build confidence. Build up speed by bending your knees and feet together and then bringing one skate behind you to push off with the inside edge of the blade.

Where to Go

FMC Ice Sports Auburn, Brockton, Burlington, Cambridge, Chelmsford, East Boston, Fall River , Fitchburg, Franklin, Gardner, Greenfield, Holyoke, Lynn, Marlboro, Natick, New Bedford, Plymouth, Raynham, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, West Roxbury and Worcester; 1-888-74-SKATE

Bay State Skating School Cambridge, Brookline, Medford, Newton-Brighton, Quincy, Somerville, South Boston, Waltham, West Roxbury and Weymouth; 1-781-890-8480

– Compiled and written by Deirdre Wilson and Steve Calechman