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Good Old Ice "FYI"! Ice Danger Tips (Cool and A Must To Watch)!

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I know this is brought up from one post to another, but since the lakes up this way are frozen over as of today, it would be good to run a post about "Ice"

This is right from the MN DNR webpage. I know its old news crazy, but never a bad idea to reread! Plus there is a cool video at the end wink

Also some info I even found I did not know whistle Please read, it may help you or someone you know in the next month or season. smile


Don't let this happen to you this winter!



There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

Ice safety

When is ice safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

Some cold facts about ice

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly, formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.

General ice thickness guidelines

For New, Clear Ice Only

2" or less - STAY OFF

4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot

5" - Snowmobile or ATV

8" - 12" - Car or small pickup

12" - 15" - Medium truck

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.


!!!!!!!!!Click here for a printable PDF version!!!!!!!!!

Traveling on ice

The following guidelines can help you make wise choices...

Check for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop.

Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel, ice auger or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit.

Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.

If you must drive a vehicle, be prepared to leave it in a hurry--keep windows down, unbuckle your seat belt and have a simple emergency plan of action you have discussed with your passengers.

Stay away from alcoholic beverages.

Even "just a couple of beers" are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder rather than warming you up.

Don't "overdrive" your snowmobile's headlight.

At even 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated the hole in the ice.

Wear a life vest under your winter gear.

Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. And it's a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks that may be home made or purchased from most well stocked sporting goods stores that cater to winter anglers. It's amazing how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of unbroken but wet and slippery ice while wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. CAUTION: Do NOT wear a flotation device when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle!

What if you fall in?

What should you do?

First, try not to panic. This may be easier said than done, unless you have worked out a survival plan in advance. Read through these steps so that you can be prepared.

Don't remove your winter clothing.

Heavy clothes won't drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.

Turn toward the direction you came. That’s probably the strongest ice.

Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. This is where a pair of nails, sharpened screwdrivers or ice picks come in handy in

providing the extra traction you need to pull yourself up onto the ice.

Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way back onto the solid ice. If your clothes have trapped a lot of water, you may have to lift yourself partially out of the water on your elbows to let the water drain before starting forward.

Lie flat on the ice once you are out and roll away from the hole to keep your weight spread out. This may help prevent you from breaking through again.

Get to a warm, dry, sheltered area and re-warm yourself immediately. In moderate to severe cases of cold water hypothermia, you must seek medical attention. Cold blood trapped in your extremities can come rushing back to your heart after you begin to re-warm. The shock of the

chilled blood may cause ventricular fibrilation leading to a heart attack and death!

What if your vehicle breaks through?


*If your car or truck plunges through the ice, the best time to escape is before it sinks, not after. It will stay afloat a few seconds to several minutes depending on the airtightness of the vehicle.

*While the car is still afloat, the best escape hatches are the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure. If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.

*A vehicle with its engine in the front will sink at a steep angle and may land on its roof if the water is 15 feet or deeper. As the car starts its final plunge to the bottom, water rapidly displaces the remaining air. An air bubble can stay in a submerged vehicle, but it is unlikely that it would remain by the time the car hits the bottom.

*When the car is completely filled, the doors may be a little easier to open unless they are blocked by mud and silt. Remember too, chances are that the car will be upside down at this point! Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished. This underscores the necessity of getting out of the car before it starts to sink!

What if someone else falls in?


What if someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone.

Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.

Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go

PREACH Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.

REACH If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder, or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.

THROW Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.

ROW Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.

GO A nonprofessional shouldn’t go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out.

If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help and keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way and urge them to fight to survive. Heroics by well meaning but untrained rescuers sometimes result in two deaths.

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Thank the DNR guys grin

I read and watched it again. It reminds me of ice time and I am getting into ice wink

Cantlin and Freemont (169 in Zimmerman/Princeton area where still frozen when I came home.

Ice is very soon smile

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Wow!! The biggest red letters " do not wear a floatation devise in an enclosed vehicle. I was wearing two. Now that I think about it the inflatable would be ok and I will throw the pfd in the bed of the truck. I would think the inflatable would be ok once out of the vehicle. Great post. Thanks!!

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Thanks for putting out the reminders. Last year was brutal with the freeze - thaw then the blanket of snow. Made for scary conditions. Lakes in our area had lots of patches of open ice that froze later, than other parts - then got the snow that covered them over and slowed the freezing process.

Hopefully we get a good solid layer of ice before the first snow.

If you are new to a lake, it is really good to talk to locals (like baitshops) to find out if lakes have any trouble spots to avoid - especially early in the season.

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Wow!! The biggest red letters " do not wear a floatation devise in an enclosed vehicle. I was wearing two. Now that I think about it the inflatable would be ok and I will throw the pfd in the bed of the truck. I would think the inflatable would be ok once out of the vehicle. Great post. Thanks!!

For everyone who owns Artic Armor, don't forget that you have it on when driving on the ice. Be safe.

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I think it is pertaining to life jackets, not Arctic Armor.

I would assume with a life jacket on (big and bulky) it would be harder to escape out of an open window on the vehicle.

The Arctic Armor would be like a jacket when getting out and would help you stay a float if you become unconscious or when you to the surface.

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I think it is pertaining to life jackets, not Arctic Armor.


I disagree. I think they are talking about any inherently buoyant article that can trap you if your vehicle sinks. It's the floatation, not the bulk.

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I was just thinking about that today, while I was working in the shop, not that I drive a enclosed vehicle on the ice hardly at all.

But I suppose it is not recommended? to wear your Arctic Armor while driving on ice in an enclosed vehicle??

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I called the DNR today down town to ask, but I got his voice mail and will try again tomorrow.

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Hi Guys – thanks for posting our ice safety stuff.

With inherently buoyant PFDs, you get some hypothermia protection along with the flotation. There is very little hypothermia protection afforded by an inflatable. The issues with inflatables are that when used under very cold conditions you don’t get a full inflation from the CO2 since cooling the gas shrinks the volume. You’ll get some, just not a full vest worth. Another problem with using inflatables on ice is that the inflated bladders on your chest can make it difficult to get out of the ice hole without removing it.

I helped KMSP Fox 9 do a report on cold water a year ago, and Jeff Passolt (the reporter) staged falling out of a boat while wearing an automatic inflatable that makes sort of a yellow pillow across the middle of your torso. The vest fired and inflated perfectly, but Jeff was unable to climb back in the boat with the vest on.

Fox 9 Anchor over the side - cold water splashdown

Wearing flotation devices in vehicles is not recommended for two reasons – first, the added bulk hinders escape from an enclosed vehicle – especially through a car window. The second reason being that buoyancy can tend to push you to the roof/headliner of the car if it sinks, making it even tougher to get out the window or door.

Just a quick reminder, most years - a child under age 5 is the first ice death of the year. If you have kids anywhere near the ice - keep a close eye on them!

Best regards,

Tim Smalley

MN DNR Boat & Water Safety

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Thanks Tim for joining HSO/FM/IL and giving us the great and informative answer smile.

Also a big thanks to you and the others down at the DNR headquarters for putting these life saving tips together. (IMO) this stuff never gets old. Just very good for the cold weather MN sportsman grin


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Welcome to Fishing Minnesota, Ice Leader's and Hot Spot Outdoors.

It's great to have such qualified members as yourself at the DNR to offer your great advice and also help with many of the questions in regards to the laws.

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Great post. Never can be too careful out there. Remember that no fish is worth your life. I think it's awesome that you promote ice safety. Thanks for the info. Have a great season and be careful out there.

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