DNR reminds ice goers to ‘Know before you go’
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens urge all outdoor enthusiasts and ice fishers to check with their local shops, fishing clubs and outfitters for local ice conditions before venturing out.
Capt. April Dombrowski of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement Recreation Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says early season ice conditions vary greatly from waterbody to waterbody and with these temperature swings. This is why she stresses to all: No ice is safe.
“Since we at the Department of Natural Resources do not monitor ice conditions, we urge all who enjoy the outdoors to first check with local bait shops, fishing clubs, snowmobile clubs and outfitters for those local ice conditions,” Dombrowski said. “These are the places locally most likely to have the most current information about the lakes and areas.”
Dombrowski says extreme caution is always recommended when the topic is ice. “Even though it may look thick on the surface, moving water from streams, rivers and springs can cause ice to form unevenly.”
She offers these tips for anyone considering going on the ice:
• Know before you go. Don’t travel in areas you are not familiar and don’t travel at night or during reduced visibility.
• Dress warmly in layers and consider wearing a life jacket or vest.
• Do not go alone. Head out with friends or family. Take a cell phone and make sure someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.
• Avoid inlets, outlets or narrow that may have current that can thin the ice.
• Look for clear ice, which is generally stronger than ice with snow on it or bubbles in it.
• Carry some basic safety gear: ice claws or picks, a cellphone in a waterproof bag or case, a life jacket and length of rope, and a spud bar to check ice while walking to new areas.
• Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice and take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
If you go through the ice:
• Carry a set of ice picks in your pocket to help you climb out of the ice hole.
• Once out of the water, do not stand up. Rather, walk on your forearms until the majority of your body is on solid surface.
• Try to remain calm, call for help and take steps to get out of the water as soon as possible.
Common sense is the greatest ally in preventing ice related incidents. One rule of thumb remains the same. Treat all ice as unsafe.
The DNR also has information on its website about what to do should you fall through the ice and how to make ice claws. Learn more by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “ice safety.”