DNR issues annual warning about dangers of thin ice

Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued its annual reminder to Minnesotans, advising them to be caution around newly-formed ice.

The department reminded Minnesotans that ice thickness is highly variable at this time of year. Additionally, even though ice may not form, water can be so cold that an unexpected fall into water can be extremely dangerous.

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

The DNR states anglers and those looking for ice recreation should stay on shore until there’s at least 4 inches of new, clear ice. Those venturing out onto the ice, in that situation, should also check its thickness every 150 feet.

While 4 inches, or more, of new, clear ice is acceptable for ice fishing and other activities on foot, the DNR advises 5-7 inches are necessary for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup truck, and 12-15 inches for a medium truck. Those amounts should be doubled for white or snow-covered ice, the DNR states.

The DNR also suggests the following for ice safety:

  • Wear a life jacket or float coat when venturing out onto the ice, unless you are in a vehicle
  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and a tape measure if ice activities are planned
  • Check ice at regular intervals, as conditions can vary
  • Bring a cellphone or personal locator beacon
  • Let someone know about trip plans and expected return time
  • Check conditions and known hazards with local experts before venturing out

Learn more about ice safety via the DNR’s website here and more about cold water danger here.