DNR warns of thin ice and cold water dangers amid record warmth

Minnesota is experiencing record warmth this month, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is advising those venturing out onto the ice to be extra careful. In a news release, the DNR said that ice thickness varies widely across the state, and that some areas may have less than four inches of new, clear ice.

Ice thickness guidelines for different activities

The DNR issued some minimum thickness guidelines for new, clear ice for various activities, such as fishing, snowmobiling, driving and walking. The guidelines are based on the average annual temperature and snowfall in Minnesota.

Activity Minimum thickness
Ice fishing 4 inches
Snowmobiles or other all-terrain vehicles 5 to 7 inches
Small car or pickup 8 to 10 inches
Medium-sized truck 12 to 15 inches

If the ice is snow-covered, all of these thicknesses should be doubled.

DNR warns

The DNR also advised people to check the ice thickness every 150 feet as they go out on frozen water, and to avoid going through areas that are soft or have cracks.

Ice safety tips from experts

The DNR said that even though a lake might have enough ice in one spot, it might not have enough ice somewhere else. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant around the water at this time of year.

Some of the tips from experts include:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Bring an ice pick
  • Have communication devices like a cell phone
  • Go out with a buddy
  • Let someone else know when you expect to return
  • Stay on shore unless there is four inches of new, clear ice

The DNR also reminded people that even strong swimmers can be incapacitated by the initial shock of cold water.

Ice rescue training underway

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are conducting cold water rescue trainings throughout the season with fire departments from across the county.

The trainings include making sure their waterproof suits are in good shape and their rescue vehicles are ready to go. New this year, the sheriff’s office has a four-wheeled vehicle that can float if it breaks through the ice — they also have their tried-and-true airboat that can easily maneuver across the lake.

The HCSO said that their message is simple and can save lives: ice is never 100% safe.

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