Mayo Clinic Doctors Demonstrate Dangers of Ice Fishing

Photo: KSTP

February 10, 2017 12:18 PM

Ice fishing may be a favorite pastime of many Minnesotans, but doctors say it can also be more dangerous than some realize.

Mayo Clinic doctors aimed to demonstrate those dangers with the help of a mannequin they call Gus. 

Gus has been dinged, dented and generally doomed in a series of Mayo Clinic public education videos. Previous installments include Gus being hit by a driver who's texting, suffering a fireworks injury and receiving the Heimlich.


With the spring thaw just around the corner, the time had come for Gus to learn a thing or two about ice fishing injuries.

"The team is trying to film some video clips that hopefully will save somebody's life," Mayo Clinic General Surgeon David Farley said.

The data show ice fishing can be a very dangerous sport.

"Not only is ice fishing becoming more common, [but] with that, the injuries are becoming more common as well," General Surgery Resident Cornelius Thiels said.

Thiels authored a study in which he compared ice fishing injuries to warm weather fishing injuries. One of his findings is that severe injuries, including drownings and hypothermia, are more common out on the ice. There are also some ice fishing injuries that have less to do with cold and more to do with heat.

"The important thing is using a heater that's of good quality, and therefore decreases your risk of having a problem with it," Thiels said, "but also having a tent that's appropriate and has a ventilation system built into it."

So what should you do? The doctors recommend keeping an eye on four things to reduce injuries:

  1. Your alcohol intake,
  2. Your ice house and the heater,
  3. The thickness of the ice, it needs to be at least four inches thick to support a human,
  4. Be careful not to slip and fall,

"Come to the emergency room from time to time," Farley said. "You'll see people that had some serious problems."

Once the Mayo Clinic public education video is finished, Gus will deal with those serious problems as well.


Josh Rosenthal

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