Minnesota DNR Provides Ice Safety and Preparation Tips for the Winter

MINNESOTA — As the cold weather settles in, lakes are beginning to freeze, generating excitement about various winter activities.  The Minnesota DNR wants everyone to get out enjoy what nature has to provide, but they also want everyone to be safe this winter.

Frozen ponds, lakes, and streams can be the source of a lot of fun during the winter months, whether it be for ice fishing, hockey, skating, or small recreational vehicles.  However, these same frozen bodies of water can also pose a serious threat if the ice isn’t ready to handle the stress of human activity.  So, it is important to be prepared for that worst case scenario.

“The safest time to get out on the ice is after you make a plan.  Tell someone before you go out where you’re going, time you expect to be back.  When you go out there, you’re going to want about four inches of new, clear ice to be formed if you’re traveling on foot,” said Minnesota DNR conservation officer Andrew Ladzinski.

If your planned activity includes taking a snowmobile or ATV across ice, the DNR recommends there be at least five to seven inches of new ice. Even then, whether it be because of the weather, currents, or chemistry of the water, the ice could give way and it is critical to be equipped with the right gear to save your own or someone else’s life.

“Some of the safety gear that they should have with them to start with would be a life jacket or some kind of buoyant flotation device. They make a lot of winter coats, suits that provide buoyancy like that. Float coats would be another example. Throw bag, a rope throw bag in case someone goes in. Spud bar to break through the ice and check the thickness. And ice picks that I have around my neck right here,” said Ladzinski.

Something else to take into account is even if the ice is thick enough at a lake near your house, it doesn’t mean the ice will be adequate where you are traveling to.

“Ice conditions all across the state are varying depending on where you are at. It’s also important to make sure you check for yourself what the current ice conditions are in your specific location that you’re going to be at.  Things like wind, temperature, snow, rivers and ponds coming into lakes, things like that, can all affect the ice conditions,” said Ladzinski.

Other things to remember are to not go alone, bring a cell phone, ask about local ice conditions with experts, and lastly, don’t get tired of discussing ice safety with your family and friends.  Ice may never be one hundred percent safe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared and still have fun this winter.

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