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State: Think Twice Before Going Out on the Ice

Anyone heading out on the ice should: wear a life jacket, carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort— ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice.

With several days of temperatures hovering above and below freezing, 32°F, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding everyone not to let their guard down when traveling out on a frozen lake, river or pond.

With days of warmer than normal temperatures, it doesn’t take long to make the ice brittle, said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Anglers or snowmobilers might be safe in one spot one day, but might fall through in the same place the very next day."

So far this winter, there have been no ice-related deaths in Minnesota. Last winter, four people died after falling through the ice. Last winter, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek ordered all vehicles off the ice after a string of accidents and widespread reports of unsafe ice on Lake Minnetonka and other bodies of water. 

“We want people to get out and enjoy our weather, but remember ice is never 100 percent safe,” she said. “Don’t put yourself or someone else in danger by going out on thin ice. No fish is worth your life.”

DNR clear ice minimum thickness recommendations are:

  •  4 inches for walking.
  •  5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
  •  8-12 inches for a car. 
  •  12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

No ice should ever be considered completely safe.

Owens added when the temperature rises above freezing for six hours during a 24 hour period, people should double the recommended minimum thicknesses. If temperatures rise above freezing for 24 hours or more, they should stay off the ice.

Owens recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: wear a life jacket, carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort— ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice. 

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