Thin ice guidelines

The Free Press

Lakes and ponds throughout the state have started to freeze and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is cautioning the public about unsafe conditions.

Where there is ice, its thickness this time of year is highly variable and subject to the whims of Mother Nature. And where ice hasn’t formed — or where it freezes at night and opens during the day — the temperature is so low that an unexpected fall into cold water can be deadly, the DNR said in a news release. With children out of school for the holiday break, the DNR urges parents to talk with their kids about staying safe.

“There’s nothing worse than when a time of year that should be festive turns tragic,” Lt. Adam Block, boating law administrator for the DNR Enforcement Division, said in a statement. “Teaching your kids to be vigilant around the water this time of year — and doing the same yourself — isn’t just a good idea. It’s an absolute necessity.”

Anglers and others taking to the ice should stay on shore until there’s at least 4 inches of new, clear ice. Anytime people are on the ice, they should check its thickness every 150 feet.

Block urges people to check ice thickness for themselves rather than deciding to walk on the ice based on what they’ve heard or read. Each year, unexpected falls into cold water lead to serious injury and death. Wearing a life jacket is the best way to avert tragedy.

4 inches is the minimum ice thickness guidelines for ice fishing or other activities on foot and 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.

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