Early ice awareness
Hunters, anglers and trappers are reminded to be aware of early ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota waters.
A few reminders include:
Edges firm up faster than farther out from shore.
Snow insulates ice, which in turn inhibits solid ice formation, hiding cracks, weak and open water areas.
Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions. Ice thickness is not consistent, as it can vary significantly within a few inches.
Avoid cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signal thinner ice. The same goes for ice that forms around partially submerged trees, brush, embankments or other structures.
Anglers should drill test holes as they make their way out on the lake, and an ice chisel should be used to check ice thickness while moving around.
Daily temperature changes cause ice to expand and contract, affecting its strength.
The following minimums are recommended for travel on clear-blue lake ice formed under ideal conditions. However, early in the winter it’s a good idea to double these figures to be safe: 4 inches for a group walking single file; 6 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle; 8-12 inches for an automobile; and 12-15 inches for a pickup/truck.
Wear a personal flotation device and carry a cell phone.
Carry ice picks or a set of screwdrivers to pull yourself back on the ice if you fall through.
If someone breaks through the ice, call 911 immediately. Rescue attempts should employ a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit. If that’s not possible, throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug or other buoyant object. Go to the victim as a last resort, but do this by forming a human chain where rescuers lie on the ice with each person holding the feet of the person in front.
To treat hypothermia, replace wet clothing with dry clothing and immediately transport the victim to a hospital.