“Air temperatures might be relatively mild, but don’t let that deceive you,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “Water temperatures are dangerously cold across the entire state, which means it’s more important than ever to wear that life jacket. “A fall into extremely cold water can incapacitate you within seconds.”

State statistics show one-third of boating fatalities typically occur during the “cold water season.” Of the 14 reported boating fatalities in 2018, all victims were male and all but one was found without a life jacket.

“This is a troubling trend – one that will only be reversed if boaters in that high-risk demographic choose to put safety first by wearing their life jacket,” Dugan said.

General ice safety guidelines
No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

  • Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.