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City of Orono, Minnesota
The Lakeshore City

Ice Safety

Enjoying the lakes in Minnesota during the winter helps with the winter blahs, whether you like to ice fish, snowmobile or just take a walk across the lake from time to time.  Always watch for lake closures, and take measures to ensure your safety while on the ice.

Safety Tips:

Remember there is no such thing as 100% safe ice!

The DNR recommends the following minimum ice thickness for your safety:  13" to 15" for a medium truck;

8" to 12" for a car or small pickup;
5" for a snowmobile or ATV;
4" for a single person or ice fishing;
2" or less, STAY OFF!

Other Tips:

The DNR also advises to never drive on the ice at night, avoid pressure ridges and areas with current.  If you do choose to drive, roll your windows down and leave doors partially open to avoid becoming trapped if your car breaks through, and carry two large nails to use as ice picks to pull yourself out if you fall through thin ice. 

When traveling on snowmobile, wear your life vest under winter gear.  Caution: Do NOT wear a flotation device when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle! 

What To Do If You Fall Through Thin Ice:

Try not to panic,

Turn twords the direction you came.

Place hands and arms on unbroken surface.

Kick your feet and dig in your ice picks to work your way onto solid ice.

Once lying on ice, don't stand.  Instead roll away from the hole.

Don't put yourself into needless danger by venturing out too soon or late in the season.

What If a Companion Falls Through Thin Ice?

Keep calm and think about the solution.

Don't run up to the hole.

Use some item on shore to throw or extend to the victim to pull them out.

Call 911 if you can't rescue immediately.

Get medical assistance for the victim.  People who are subjected to cold water immersion seem fine, but can potentially suffer from a fatal condition called "after drop".

For detailed information on ice safety and other related topics check out the links for publications and brochures.

і DNR Website, "Department of Natural Resources" Ice Rescue Claws.



City of Orono, 2750 Kelley Parkway, Orono, MN 55356 - Main (952) 249-4600 - Fax (952) 249-4616