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ICE SAFETY

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“Stay off the ice” are the words law enforcement authorities would like to promote to those in the Brainerd lakes area who feel like they have to be on the lake.

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Most of the lakes are not frozen, yet anglers have been spotted on a few lakes in Crow Wing and Cass counties, including Perch Lake in Baxter.

“It’s not safe, no matter what right now,” said Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl. “The large patches of ice have not formed yet. I’ve always said that no ice is safe, and especially now it’s not safe. We have some real uneven ice on the lakes. It could be 1 inch in one place and 8 inches in another spot, but right now it is too early to tell.”

Dahl said a few small lakes and North Long Lake have some ice. Dahl said if anglers do go on the ice, he advises them to be cautious.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch strongly recommends anglers to stay off the ice. He said there are lakes still open and ones with open pockets, therefore the lakes in Cass County also are not yet safe. And Burch said with warmer weather predicted, the ice will not improve.

Authorities said anglers on the lake not only are risking their own lives, but also the lives of the volunteers on the rescue and dive team who respond to the rescue calls.

Authorities also advise residents to use caution with young children, who may wander to a lake, stream or pond, as well as family pets to keep them safe. Both Crow Wing and Cass counties have reports every winter of pets falling through the ice. Dahl said when a beloved pet falls through the ice, pet owners want to save them and as a result they may fall through the ice and possibly drown.

The DNR reports that a person cannot judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature or whether it is covered with snow or not. Strength is based on depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice and local climatic conditions.

The DNR’s recommended minimum ice thickness guidelines for new clear ice are 2 inches or less, stay off; 4 inches for ice fishing; 5 inches for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles; 8-10 inches of a car or small pick-up; and 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

The DNR suggests that anyone going out on the lake should check with an area bait shop or resort on the lake about the ice conditions. People also should check the lake themselves using an ice chisel, ice auger, cordless drill or a tape measure. Ice should be checked every 150-feet.

More information can be found about ice safety on the DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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