Take a look at my top-ten list of fears and you'll find 'falling through the ice' (somewhere between being buried in an avalanche and spending a Friday night at Chuck E Cheese).

On Saturday, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department issued a Thin Ice Warning, which should be a word of caution to the rest of Central Minnesota.

According to Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson:

I know we all have cabin fever in part because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the ice is unsafe.

First and foremost, when it comes to ice thickness, safety, and predictability -- there are no guarantees. They keys to safety are awareness, knowledge, preparedness, and the ability to react calmly & effectively in case things go bad.

Minnesota DNR
Minnesota DNR

Before you go out on the ice, check with a local bait shop or lakeside resort to ask about ice conditions. Once you get there, measure ice thickness using an ice chisel, auger, tape measure, or cordless drill.

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Remember, temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

The Minnesota DNR offers several other after guidelines related to traveling on ice, having a survival plan, ice water rescues, escaping from a vehicle, and helping someone who has broken through. That information and more can be accessed HERE.

Every year Minnesotans die after falling through the ice on lakes. Be aware. Be smart. Be safe.

Pete Hanson is on 98.1 Minnesota's New Country weekday mornings from 5:30 to 10:00.

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