Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ice Safety Tips:
For some, snow and freezing weather mean they can finally enjoy ice fishing, and playing hockey with friends out on the lake.
But the Department of Natural Resources reminds ice enthusiasts to be smart about the time spent on ice, especially this early in the season.
The DNR says they have already spotted several people setting up ice shacks and enjoying the frozen lakes around town.
But wardens say it's important to remember that ice is never completely safe under any conditions.
“Some people go awfully early, and some a little bit more cautious,” said Wisconsin DNR Recreational Warden Bill Yearman.
Yearman says the thickness of ice depends on several factors.
“The best ice would be if there is no snow at all, and temperatures are just barely cold, because then it makes good, solid, clear ice,” he explained.
Lots of snow on top of thin, just formed ice creates the worst ice conditions.
“Snow actually acts as insulation, so even when the temperatures drop, it doesn't build up ice as fast,” said Yearman.
The DNR says you can never be too careful when you go out on the ice; so make sure to do your research, wear a life-jacket and never go out on the ice alone.
“Another safety measure is to have a wooden dowel with nails on it, and they make them commercially; wear them around your neck so if would to go through, you'd use it as a spike to pull yourself up on the ice," explained Yearman.
The DNR says falling into ice is a shock to your body. But you wouldn't get hypothermia right away. And if you don't panic and concentrate on getting out, chances of survival are very good.
“Off course I wouldn't think about taking any vehicle, whether it's an ATV or a snowmobile out there now; the ice certainly isn't thick enough for that,” added Yearman.
Some DNR charts suggest that four inches of ice is safe to walk on, but wardens say a lot of it depends on your size and weight.
So staying informed on ice conditions before you go out, and following the DNR safety tips is the formula for a fun and safe winter season.