As winter approaches and temperatures drop, ice fishing enthusiasts are gearing up for the upcoming season. However, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is issuing important ice safety reminders to ensure that everyone can enjoy this winter pastime safely.
No Ice Is Completely Safe: The DNR emphasizes that no ice can be considered completely safe. Even if it appears thick and solid, the conditions on frozen bodies of water can change rapidly. Ice thickness can vary significantly from one location to another, so taking precautions is crucial.
Safety Tips for Ice Enthusiasts: To lower the risks associated with ice-related activities, the DNR offers several valuable safety tips:
- Wear a Life Jacket: Always wear a life jacket when on the ice, except when inside a vehicle. A life jacket can be a lifesaver in the event of an accident or unexpected ice breakage.
- Carry Safety Equipment: It’s essential to carry safety equipment such as ice picks and rope. These tools can be vital for self-rescue or aiding others if they fall through the ice.
- Regularly Check Ice Thickness: Ice levels can change due to various factors, including temperature fluctuations and snowfall. Therefore, it’s crucial to check ice thickness regularly, especially when moving to different areas on the frozen surface.
Variability in Ice Thickness: Jake Holsclaw, a Recreation Warden with the Wisconsin DNR, highlights the variability of ice thickness. He explains that even on the same frozen body of water, the ice could be over a foot deep in one area while being thin or skimmed in another spot only a couple of feet away. This variability is a reminder that caution should always be exercised when on the ice.
Minimum Ice Thickness Guidelines: To provide a clear reference for those planning to venture onto the ice, the DNR has established minimum ice thickness guidelines:
- For Ice Fishing or Activities on Foot: The minimum recommended ice thickness is 4 inches. This guideline ensures safer conditions for those walking or fishing on the ice.
- For Cars or Small Pickups: If you intend to drive a car or a small pickup onto the ice, the DNR recommends a thicker layer of ice, ranging from 8 to 12 inches. This higher thickness requirement is necessary to support the weight of a vehicle.
While ice fishing and other winter activities on frozen lakes and ponds offer plenty of enjoyment, safety should always be a top priority. Adhering to these guidelines and being vigilant about ice conditions will help ensure that the season remains a time for fun and adventure rather than unexpected accidents.