Don't get caught on thin ice this winter
A frozen pond or lake extends the winter landscape, offering opportunities for ice skating, hockey, ice fishing, and more. But treading on thin ice can be dangerous, potentially causing hypothermia or even death.
That's why you need to know whether the ice is strong enough to support you, your snowmobile, or your vehicle before you venture out.
Just how thick does the ice need to be?
Unfortunately, there isn't a perfect rule. Ice doesn't freeze uniformly, so it won't be the same thickness throughout the body of water.
Here are some guidelines to help you determine the thickness of the ice:
- Ask a local business, such as a resort that frequently hosts ice fishermen, about the ice conditions.
- Create a hole in the ice using a chisel, auger, or cordless drill. Once your hole is drilled, measure the thickness of the ice with a tape measurer.
- New ice typically is stronger than old ice, even if the old ice is thicker.
Don't walk on ice that is 2 inches thick or less, and avoid driving on ice whenever possible. If you do drive on the ice, it should be at least 5 inches thick for a snowmobile or ATV, 8-12 inches for a car, and 12-15 inches for a medium truck, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Remember, there is no way to be 100% certain that ice is safe. If you're unsure about the strength of the ice or your safety, stay off the ice.