7 Tips to Stay Safe on Frozen Lakes

Stay safe on frozen lakes this year.

In the land of 10,000 lakes, winter’s frozen playground is why many of us choose to live here year-round. Staying safe on frozen lakes, streams, and ponds requires you to take extra precautions. Having sufficient insurance coverage against the unforeseen is crucial when enjoying some winter fun.

Call Lake Region Insurance Agency today for a free insurance review and quote. Our friendly agents help you fill the gaps in your coverage so that you can have peace of mind this winter.

Caution: Thin Ice!

Hockey, ice skating, and ice fishing are just a few of the cherished pastimes during a Northern winter. But Minnesota kids grow up knowing they aren’t allowed to touch the lake ice until someone measures the ice with an appropriate tool.

Sadly, vehicles, snowmobiles, and people go through the ice every year. Children and males of all ages are the most likely to fall through the ice and into a frigid lake.

It’s crucial to remember that ice is NEVER completely safe. Recreational activities on frozen lakes always carry some risk. Those enjoying the wintry outdoors can help keep themselves safe with these seven tips.

1. Know the Ice Thickness

Before considering going on the ice, you need to know how thick it is. Augers, tape measures, and ice chisels all work to gauge the thickness. For ultimate safety, check the ice measurements every 150 feet. 

Beware of thin ice on frozen lakes.Here’s a helpful guide to general safety parameters for ice thickness, with the understanding that these are not guarantees that the ice will hold. The following measurements apply to new, clear ice: 

  • Under 4” – The ice is NOT SAFE.
  • 4″ – Activities on foot may be safe, such as ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
  • 5″ to 7” – ATV and snowmobile use is likely safe.
  • 8” to 12″ – The ice can probably safely support a car, ice house, or group game.
  • 12” to 15″ – The ice should now support a medium truck.

It’s essential to remember that these guidelines are for clear ice. Experts recommend doubling the thickness requirements before venturing onto a frozen lake when dealing with white or snow ice.

2. Stay Safe on Frozen Lakes by Sticking with Daylight

Whenever possible, avoid any activity on ice in the dark. A significant part of staying safe on frozen lakes is being able to see how the ice looks. 

In particular, you need to be able to examine the color of the ice. Gray or mottled-colored ice is unsafe. White ice requires double the thickness as blue to be safe. 

It’s also crucial to be able to see the bubblers that protect lake docks. The ice around bubblers is not strong enough to support you.

3. Use the Buddy System

Ice skating on frozen lake

When it comes to winter safety, you learned much of what you need to know in kindergarten: always stick with a friend. Whether you are snowmobiling, playing hockey, or ice fishing, don’t go alone.

Having another person with you when you are on the ice keeps you safer. And it helps ensure someone can get help if there is an accident. If someone falls through the ice, it’s essential that no one try to go in after them to help. Instead, throw a rope or lifesaving device and call for professional rescue help.

4. Car Safety on the Ice

If you determine that the ice is thick enough to support your car or truck, it doesn’t mean you can park and forget about it. The ice can start sinking when cars and trucks are sitting there. Keep vehicles at least 50 feet part and move them every two hours. 

Many experts also suggest cutting a hole near the vehicle. If water starts to come over the top of the hole, then the ice is sinking.

5. Know What to Do If You Fall Through the Ice

When someone falls into frigid winter lakes, time is critical. You have a few minutes before hypothermia takes hold and creates a dangerous situation. The first task is to keep your head above water.

Kick your legs until you can grab onto the ice and pull yourself to a horizontal position. After you get out of the water, roll to thicker ice, and then seek medical treatment immediately. 

Be safe when lakes freeze.

Again, if you’re trying to get someone else out of the water, do not go in after them. Everyone available can lay down on the ice and create a human rescue chain with the lightest person closest to the hole. 

Each person should outstretch their legs and arms to distribute their weight. Reach out something the person can grab to pull them out of the frigid water, such as a:

  • Tree Branch
  • Ski Pole
  • Snowshoe
  • Rope
  • Jacket

6. Consider Your Pet

Although pets are often fairly lightweight, they are not automatically safe. Ice in the spring and fall is particularly unpredictable, so take extra precautions during those months. 

If your pet falls in, get rescue help immediately. Your instinct will be to go after your pet, but if the ice can’t hold them, it can’t hold you. Call for help right away.

7. Wear a Life Jacket

Life jackets are not only for summer lake excursions. Personal flotation devices are critical for water safety, no matter the season. Wearing something that helps you float can make the difference in surviving or not for anyone who falls through the ice. 

And don’t forget a life vest for your pooch, too. Give them the best chance by fitting them with a life jacket.

Get the Right Coverage

Going through a winter hoping you have adequate insurance isn’t the wisest choice. And it could leave you unprotected. 

Instead, reach out to the independent agents at Lake Region Insurance Agency for a comprehensive policy review. They will look at all of your plans to see if any uncovered areas leave you at risk. 

With offices in Wilmar, New London, and Cokato, MN, we are available to help all of our Greater Minnesota neighbors. 

CUSTOMER REVIEWS