Be wary when it comes to going out on ice

Published 6:29 am Saturday, November 16, 2019

According to an Associated Press article on Thursday, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Department rescued 11 people from an ice flow on Upper Red Lake.

The rescue was followed with a warning to stay off the ice this early in the season.

A recent cold snap may have frozen some bodies of water early, but there is no way to really ascertain if it’s thick enough to hold people unless you take the necessary steps. Chances are, this early in the year, it’s not.

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Obviously, ice safety is always paramount before venturing out to either go ice fishing or maybe cross country ski across the surface.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice and the DNR does not check the thickness of ice during the winter.

That means it’s up to you to ensure your own safety when on the ice. The general rule of thumb is ice should be at least four inches thick before walking on and fishing on. On the other end, ice should be at least 12-15 inches thick before driving a medium truck on.

Even still, there are things like white ice or “snow ice” that indicates weaker ice. Formed from compaction of snow, white ice is a porous ice that is structurally weaker. Safe ice thickness should be doubled in this case.

To help stay safe, ice thickness should be checked every 150 feet. Ice augers are another way to check ice thickness as well as cordless drills using a wood auger bit with a spiral. Using a tape measure you can test ice thickness using both methods.

If parking on ice, vehicles should be 50 feet or more apart from one another. The DNR suggests drilling a hole next to the vehicle and if water starts flowing out the top of the hole the ice is sinking and it’s time to move.

Winter can offer plenty of fun on both snow and ice, but always remember to keep safety in mind.