Monday, April 22, 2024
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MN DNR Warns of Dangerous Ice

It has been a particularly deadly winter season in Minnesota wa­ters, with at least four people dead after falling through the ice. While some lakes are largely ice-free, people are still ice fishing on oth­ers, particularly those in the north.

The late-ice season can be particu­larly dangerous and in recent days, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers have received numerous reports of vehicles falling through thin ice.


  • No matter how people choose to drive on the ice, whether in a motor vehicle or on a recre­ational vehicle, they should check the thickness frequently. Ice is never 100% safe.
  • Follow DNR ice thickness rec­ommendations. Always double the rec­ommendations when traveling on white ice.
  • Have safety gear, including ice picks and a life jacket or float coat, easily ac­cessible. Do not wear buoyant gear in an enclosed vehicle as it can make escape from a sinking vehicle very difficult. Roll down the windows and unlock the doors.
  • If a vehicle plunges through the ice, the best time to escape is before it sinks. It will stay afloat for a few seconds to several minutes.
  • While the car is still afloat, the best es­cape hatches are the side windows, since the doors might be held shut by the wa­ter pressure. If the windows are blocked, use an emergency safety tool, like a spring-loaded emergency hammer or an object from inside the vehicle to break the glass.
  • Depending on the conditions, it can cost several thousand dollars or more to re­move a vehicle that’s broken through the ice. It often takes specialized equipment.
  • If a vehicle breaks through the ice, state statute requires the owner of the vehi­cle report the date and the circumstanc­es surrounding the submergence to the sheriff of the county where the body of water is located with­in 48 hours of the vehicle en­tering the water.
  • Removal must be completed within 30 days of the vehicle entering the water or being discovered in the water.
  • The owner of the vehicle is subject to a civil penalty of not less than twice nor more than five times the costs incurred by the political subdivision to remove, process, and dispose of the vehicle.
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