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Sheriff's advice: Stay off the ice - Temps not yet cold enough for foot, vehicle traffic

Bob Fromm uses a sled Tuesday, Nov. 20, to haul the contents of his spearing house off the Gull River. According to the DNR, anglers should wait until 4 inches of new ice has formed to walk and fish on the ice. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch 1 / 2
Graphic: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources2 / 2

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl reported local lake surfaces are not yet safe for foot or vehicle traffic.

In a news release, the sheriff stated temperatures have not been cold enough for an adequate amount of ice to form.

People are warned not to rely on a cellphone to call for help once in the water; cellphones will often not work once submerged in water. If a person ventures out on thin ice, they are endangering themselves and the lives of the rescuers who are called to assist, the sheriff said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources added in their own news release now is the time to talk with kids about the dangers of ice.

"Ice, especially early ice with snow cover, is extremely deceptive because you can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," stated DNR Conservation Officer Adam Block in the release. "Parents need to teach their kids that ice is never 100 percent safe. If your child is near the ice, you should be near your child."

With many children out of school for holiday breaks, they may look toward newly forming ice for entertainment.

"In addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on ice should be wearing a life jacket or float coat," said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator, in the release. "A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice."

Ice safety guidelines

No ice can ever be considered "safe ice," but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk.

• Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).

• Children should never be unsupervised around ice.

• Caution children to stay off ponds, streams and other bodies of water.

• A thin coating of ice on a pond or lake does not mean it is safe.

• Check ice thickness at regular intervals—conditions can change quickly.

• Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

• Avoid channels and rivers.

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

• 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.

• 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

• 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.

• 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

• Double these minimums for white ice or ice covered with heavy snow.

These thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice—many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe, according to the news release. For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/icesafety and www.mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

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