With daytime temperatures still climbing above freezing even in the northern parts of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to stay clear of early ice and use extreme caution when recreating on dangerously cold water. Warnings from public safety officials say to stay off the ice until at least 4 inches of new, clear ice is present.
“No fish is worth the risk of going through thin ice,” said DNR conservation officer Lt. Adam Block. “At this point, it is going to take several consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures before enough solid ice has formed to support foot traffic, and even longer before ATVs and snowmobiles should be on the ice.” A recent tragedy occurred in northern Minnesota when two anglers lost their lives after breaking through thin ice on their ATV.
Several emergency ice rescues have also taken place over the last few weeks. Last winter, two people died after breaking through the ice. “In addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on hard water should be wearing a life jacket,” Block said. “A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that exponentially increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice.”
General ice safety guidelines No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:
•Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure. •Check ice thickness at regular intervals – conditions can change quickly.
•Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon. •Don’t go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.
•Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle). Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts. The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are
•4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
•5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
•8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
•12-15 inches for a medium truck.
•Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.