Return of cold weather doesn’t mean ice is safe

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With cold weather returning across much of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds ice anglers and other recreationists not to be fooled by any remaining ice on lakes and streams.

Over the past week, public safety officials have reported more than a half-dozen ice emergencies across the state involving anglers and ATV riders breaking through thin or weak ice.

“The freeze-thaw cycle produces extremely weak ice that is dangerously deceptive in its appearance and how thick it measures,” said Lisa Dugan, recreation safety outreach coordinator. “A cold snap now doesn’t change the fact that ice already had begun melting and continues to deteriorate rapidly.”

According to the DNR, many of the state’s lakes are still ice-covered, but changing conditions mean lakes can go from ice-covered to open water over the course of a day or two. As the sun gains strength with the onset of spring, ice conditions can change dramatically within a matter of hours even when the air temperature remains cold.

“We’ve had reports of anglers falling through ice that was just fine an hour earlier. That’s how fast things can change,” Dugan said. “If you do choose to venture onto late-season ice, use extreme caution. Use a chisel to check the strength of the ice frequently, be sure to wear a life jacket or float coat, and remember that no fish is worth the risk of losing your life.”

With five ice-related fatalities already reported during the 2017-2018 ice season, Dugan said it’s imperative to not let your guard down. She emphasized the importance of warning children to stay away from ice and open water unless accompanied by a responsible adult.

For additional information about ice safety, visit www.mndnr.gov/icesafety.