Tips to stay safe on the ice

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 6:23 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - It’s hard to imagine a Wisconsin winter without activities on the ice, from ice fishing to snowmobiling and even ice skating. Jake Bolks, a Conservation Warden with the Wisconsin DNR said being on the ice can be risky.

“Ice is never 100% safe,” Bolks said. “You always want to plan as if there’s, you know, potentially some thin ice or spots where it’s not going to be as thick as you might think it is.”

Bolks said because of this, when going on the ice, people should prepare for emergencies.

“Before you go out, you always want to make sure you have stuff to rescue yourself,” Bolks said. “If you need a lifejacket or rope, or ice picks or anything like that, and then just do your own research on whatever lake or waterbody you’re going into.”

Sometimes looks can be deceiving on the ice. Randy Paulson is an ice fisher and said with early ice, he waits to make sure the ice is thick in the center of the lake.

“It may be thick there, but our in the middle where the birds were for while, it might be only two or three inches, not enough to hold the vehicle,” Paulson said. “So, I give it some time for the weather to get really cold and form good ice all the way across.”

If you are concerned about safety, Bolks said you shouldn’t risk it.

“Check the ice conditions, drill some extra holes when you’re going out to make sure the ice is thick, and talk with other fishermen, snowmobilers, who’s on the ice,” Bolks said. “It’s hard to tell you what the right ice is to be on. The best thing to do is always be prepared. Go with whatever you’re comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t go on it.”

Bolks said if you see any water coming through parts of the ice, or if ice looks gray, it is best to stay away from those areas.