Valley City Times-Record

North Dakota Game & Fish: Early ice awareness


Outdoor enthusiast­s need 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 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.

And some life-saving safety tips:

• 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.

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