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Ice Safety - Ice is NEVER 100% safe.

The Lake Minnetonka are is a great place to live, to be sure. However, last year MFD saw an increase in ice-related emergencies. Please stay safe this winter, err on the side of safety.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line: Ice is NEVER 100% safe. Never go out alone and avoid driving on the ice at all costs.

Thickness Guidelines

Nothing can substitute for common sense – always err on the side of safety. Ice is never consistent and there are many types of ice. For simplicity, we will call out 2 main types:

  1. New ice: as the name implies, new ice is newly formed from very cold weather. Because it is new and clear, is safer than “white ice.”
  2. White ice: snow and variable weather produces “white ice.” Changes in temperature and the insulation created by snow makes for very uneven and unsafe ice conditions.
 Thickness in Inches   Activity Measurement 
 2" or less  STAY OFF! Ice pic + tape measure 
 4"  Ice fishing, walking Ice pic + tape measure 
 5"  Snowmobile or ATV  Cordless drill + 8" wood auger bit + tape measure
 8" - 12"  Car or small pickup  Auger
 12" - 15"  Medium truck  Auger

Driving on the Ice

If you MUST drive on the ice, know that vehicles need AT LEAST 12” of new ice for driving. Check with a local bait shop for information on areas of thin ice and test thickness with an auger – if it is less than recommended thickness, keep your vehicle off the ice!

Vehicle Rules

  • DO NOT BUCKLE UP. This is the only time where it is OK to not wear your seatbelt. If you start sinking, you and your family will need to move, FAST. MFD does not recommend young children go out on the ice, however, if they must, DO NOT buckle kids, even children young enough for car seats.
  • ROLL YOUR WINDOWS DOWN. Yes, it’s cold out, but doors under water do not open. Open windows are a vital escape route.
  • DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH CHANNELS. A channel is a navigable route between two bodies of water. Channels are a sure fire place to find thin ice, stay away!
  • DO NOT WEAR A FLOATION DEVICE in your vehicle. Floatation devices will only make it more difficult to escape your vehicle. Only wear floatation devices when you are walking or on an ATV/Snowmobile.

More Ice Safety Tips

  • Because water bodies are always shifting and flowing, ice rarely freezes evenly. Ice may be 8” thick in one area and just 1” thick a few feet away.
  • Ice formed over flowing/moving water is usually uneven and dangerous. Use extra caution around channels, rivers, bridges, etc.
  • Ice formed in areas with lots of wildlife population, under the ice or on top of it, will be thinner than undisturbed, new ice.
  • Carry ice pics. If you fall in, ice pics will help you grip the slippery surface and escape. Hand-held ice pics are easy to come by and really inexpensive. If you’re heading out, pick some up at the local hardware store or search online how to make your own – there are lots of good ideas out there.
  • If you fall in, go back the way you came – it will be your best bet for reliable ice.