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DNR: Ice safety guidelines to know before you go


MINNESOTA-- This time of year, many Minnesotans get antsy to hit the lakes for ice fishing. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to remind everyone about the dangers of lakes and ponds as they just start to freeze.

Where there isn’t ice, the water is dangerously cold. The DNR says to take caution around open water and newly formed ice as the water is so cold, an unexpected fall could be deadly.

“The first ice-fishing trip of the season is exciting, but there’s no fish that is worth falling through the ice,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “Vigilance around the water at this time of year isn’t just a good idea – it’s an absolute necessity.”

DNR reccommends at least 4 inches of new, clear ice before going out for recreational activities.

DNR's ice safety guidelines:

Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
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 about trip plans and expected return time.
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.
For more information, visit the ice safety page and the cold water danger page.

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Molly Wasche

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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