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Be observant for thin ice on lakes and streams

Albert Lea Tribune, Minn.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

As ice forms on area lakes, it is a good time of year for a reminder about the dangers of thin ice.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources advises parents to teach their children that ice is never 100 percent safe. You can’t judge ice conditions simply by appearance or thickness.

Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the safety of the ice, according to the agency.

Ice covered by snow can be especially deceptive because it makes it so people can’t see cracks or thickness of ice under the snow.

The agency reminds people recreating on ice to always wear a life jacket, except for when in a vehicle.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are as follows:

—4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot

—5 to 7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle

—8 to 12 inches for a car or small pickup

—12 to 15 inches for a medium truck

These minimums should be doubled for white or ice covered with heavy snow.

If you see someone fall into the water, call 911 and reassure the victim that help is on the way. Be careful about trying to help the person out of the water on your own without a means to self-rescue yourself, such as an ice pick or a life jacket. You don’t want to end up with two people in the water.

Be smart and plan ahead.