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Winter Ice Safety

The following ice safety tips can help keep you safe this winter. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends the following ice thickness:

2 inches or less ................... STAY OFF!
4 inches ............................... Ice Fishing
5 inches ............................... Snowmobile or ATV
8-12 inches .......................... Car or Small Truck
12-15 inches ........................ Medium Truck

What should you do if your vehicle goes through the ice?

If your vehicle goes through the ice, it will stay afloat an average of 30-45 seconds. When traveling on ice in a vehicle, everyone should be aware of how to exit the vehicle quickly. If a vehicle goes through the ice, attempt to exit through the side windows as quickly as possible. Vehicles usually state to plummet nose down due to the weight of the engine. 

Carry a pair of ice picks, purchased from a local sporting goods or outdoor supply store, as it's very difficult to climb out of the water onto wet, slippery ice. This tool will not only help with climbing back on the ice, they will aid movement across the ice. Once on the ice, do not stand up. Roll to distribute your body weight until you get to thicker ice or closer to shore and are safe on land.

Some other things to consider when traveling on ice:

  • Test the thickness of the ice yourself
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Drive slowly on ice at night - your headlights can only illuminate so far and you may not be able to stop in time to avoid thin ice warnings or open water
  • Always travel with someone on ice
  • When on ice, let friends and family know where you are going, when you will return, and notify them if plans change

Always look at recent temperatures vs. calendar or time of year when considering whether ice is safe or not.

And, remember, ice is NEVER 100% safe!