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DNR reminds parents of thin ice dangers on area lakes, ponds

Brad Campbell and Nate Sitz hauled their ice fishing gear out onto Lake Emma early Friday morning. On the sled is their portable tent and chairs. They planned to spend the day ice fishing. (Photo by Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 2
Ice guidelines2 / 2

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warns parents to caution their children to stay off ponds and other water bodies that now have a thin coating of ice.

"Every season, people fall through ice they thought was safe," said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. "It's especially tragic when these incidents involve children. A quarter of the people who die by falling through the ice are 9 years old or younger."

As of Nov. 26, no ice in Minnesota is consistently four inches thick, the minimum experts recommend for walking. Ice safety guidelines also recommend a minimum of five inches of new, clear ice for snowmobiles, and eight to 12 inches for a small to medium-sized automobile, pickup or SUV.

During holidays, children are often sent outside to play while meals are being prepared and presents are being wrapped. Parents are advised to keep those children away from frozen water bodies near home.

"Many years around the holidays, we receive reports of children falling through ice and drowning. It's just so incredibly tragic," Smalley said. "Kids are attracted to ice like a magnet. They just don't know how much ice it takes to support a person, nor what is or isn't safe."

Smalley said children should not go out on the ice without adult supervision, even when conditions improve.

The DNR recommends contacting a local bait shop or resort at the destination lake to find out if ice is safe for the planned activities.

Winter sports enthusiasts can obtain a free packet of ice safety information by calling 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or visit