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
Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.
Before heading out on ice:
- Contact a local bait shop or lakeside resort to ask about ice conditions.
- Check ice thickness once you get there.
Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.
Cars, pickups or SUVs should be parked at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours to prevent sinking.
Tip: Make a hole next to the car. If water starts to overflow the top of the hole – the ice is sinking and it’s time to move the vehicle.
What if you fall in?
What should you do if you fall through the ice? 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 fibrillation leading to a heart attack and death!
All information was taken from the Department of Natural Resources. www.dnr.state.mn.us