Ice fishing and other ice related activities are a mainstay in Minnesota. With the winter a lot colder than last year, many were eager to get out onto the ice this year.
Despite its slow start, ice on area lakes, including Lake Washington, has been able to support vehicles. But that doesn't mean that it is ever totally safe. Many cars have gone through the ice recently.
Tom Doherty, Le Seuer County Sheriff says, "Our point is that any time you travel on the ice, it is unsafe. There is no safe ice out there."
Being careless on the ice not only puts your life in danger, but it risks the lives of rescuers as well. "It really scares me because its putting potentially my deputies who all have rescue suits in their squad cars, my dive team and fire and rescue in jeopardy" says Doherty.
If you do go out on the ice, take caution, and stick to familiar areas. Out on Lake Washington, cars are parked on the lake.
Eric Yngsdal was fishing out on Lake Washington today. "Right now its about sixteen to eighteen, sixteen on the safe side" Yngsdal said. The DNR says that twelve to fifteen inches is suitable for having a large vehicle on the ice.
But it's important to bring proper in case the worst case scenario occurs. "I usually have ice picks with me or spud bar to walk in front of me to check the ice" says Yngsdal. Sheriff Doherty also stresses bringing a life jacket.
The reason why ice is so dangerous is because ice thickness can vary so much. "The ice is virtually uneven at various times. There might be twelve to thirteen inches in one area and seven to eight inches in another area and it's just never a safe thing to do."
Ice in narrow areas is always thinner since there are currents as the water level tries to even out, so avoid these areas. Springs can be very dangerous because currents can open up large areas of ice on even the coldest days.
No ice is safe ice, but if you can remember to use caution and bring proper equipment, then you can have a safe and enjoyable time.