‘Common sense makes for a safer trip’: Remembering the importance of ice safety

An ice fishing hole in Minnesota.
An ice fishing hole in Minnesota.(Kellin Harmon/KVLY)
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 7:26 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The number one rule of being out on the ice is that it is never 100% safe. However, there are measures out there to help increase your chances of being safe.

One way is to drill holes to see how thick the ice is.

“Drill holes ahead to make sure it’s going to be thick enough for the vehicle or the snowmobile,” said Brady Baxter, the owner of Baxstar Fishing. “For a vehicle like mine, I’ve got a half-ton truck, 13 inches or so is what the DNR recommends. On a snowmobile or a four-wheeler, on the lighter-end, five inches will support a small ATV or a snowmobile. But for those bigger ATV’s, eight inches is what you want.”

“The ice right now here is about two feet deep and it’s a good clear ice so it’s pretty strong.” said Jack Olson, a long-time ice fisherman.

Another safety tip is to keep away from areas that have running water. This includes rivers in and out of lakes.

“Common sense makes for a safer trip no matter what you’re doing.” said Olson.

“Many lakes around the area have these rivers with water coming into the lake. That water’s flowing. It’s always a danger-zone. I recommend people avoid those areas if at all possible.” said Baxter.

However, if you do find yourself in a worst-case scenario, tools such as ice picks can make a difference.

“If you fall through the ice, the general rule of thumb is that you should swim off of it. There going to make it more effective when you are swimming off the ice. It will give you some traction and you can kick your feet like you’re swimming to try to get off.” said Baxter.

One of the most important advice from experts is to remember to let people know where you are going and what time you plan to get back.

“Let people know where you’re going if you’re out snowmobiling and you have ATV’s out on the ice. If you don’t come home, they know where to look.” said Baxter.

“Cold water affects the body rapidly,” said Ottertail County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons. “The quicker we know, the quicker first responders can get there. A fun day fishing or snowmobiling and enjoying the lake can turn a catastrophe real quick.”