Staying safe around water, ice this winter

(ABC 6 News) – While some are choosing to sit inside, out of the way of the elements, many will be stepping foot or riding out on the ice once the lakes are frozen.

Before heading out on the ice, several tools will prove to be useful should anyone find themselves on thin ice.

Minnesota State Conservation Officer Annette Kyllo mentioned some of the tools that will help the most. “Ice picks, maybe around your neck a life jacket or float coat. Maybe a rope, ice chisel, all those things so that if you were to go through the ice, the ice picks can help you potentially self-rescue.”

The Minnesota department of natural resources recommends measuring the ice thickness every one-hundred-fifty feet. This is because there are springs and currents in all bodies of water that will cause ice thickness to vary. Once on the ice, there are pointers to avoid breaking through the ice.

“You can distance yourself from other vehicles to avoid putting as much weight in certain parts of the ice. You know making sure that ice is at the recommended depths for the equipment that you’re taking out there," Kyllo said.

Recommended ice depths vary depending on said equipment. The minimum is four inches, and that is if you are on foot.

If you are looking to drive your vehicle on the ice, you need, at least, anywhere from eight to fifteen inches of ice depending on the weight of the vehicle. Even then, no ice is guaranteed to be safe to walk or ride on.

“And all of those depths should be doubled if it is not that new, clear ice. If it’s snow-covered or the old, white ice it needs to be twice as thick as those recommended depths,” Kyllo added. This is because the overall structure of the ice is not as hard or firm as it is when it is clear.

All of these steps are important to take so you are not left out in the cold.