Minnesota’s Safety Guidelines for Recreation on Ice

In Minnesota there are some guidelines and advisories that remain, year after year, as a rule of thumb for keeping safe when bodies of water are covered with 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. Something you can do to check the thickness is to use a tape measure. Put the tape measure into the hole and hook the bottom edge before taking measurement.  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. Keep in mind, schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes causing snowmobiles and cars to break through. If your vehicle plunges through the ice, the best escape hatches are the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure. Being outdoors provides a variety of welcomed recreation. Plan ahead and play it safe. Happy winter fun!

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


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