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Cass County Sheriff urges caution: several vehicles go through the ice

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch urged strong caution on area lakes after several vehicles went through the ice this past weekend. Several snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility vehicles went through the ice or were stuck in slushy con...

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch urged strong caution on area lakes after several vehicles went through the ice this past weekend.

Several snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility vehicles went through the ice or were stuck in slushy conditions during the past weekend, the Cass County Sheriff's office reported.

In each incident, all parties involved were uninjured and able to get away from the vehicles.

Most reports were received from Leech Lake, specifically around a large ice heave in the Sand Point area of Leech Lake. A separate incident was reported on Woman Lake.

Even though cold temperatures have helped ice conditions, there are still many vulnerable areas around ice heaves, rivers and springs. All ice should never be considered 100 percent safe, the sheriff's office reminded.

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The Cass County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota DNR reminds everyone travelling on ice about the following safety tips:

• Check for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop. Test the thickness using an ice chisel, ice auger or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit.

• Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.

• If individuals must drive a vehicle on the ice, be prepared to leave it in a hurry. Keep windows down and have a simple emergency plan of action discussed with passengers in the vehicle.

• Stay away from alcoholic beverages.

"Even 'just a couple of beers' are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life," the sheriff's office reported. "And, contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder rather than warming you up."

• Don't "overdrive" the snowmobile's or ATV's headlight.

"At even 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines," the Cass County Sheriff's Department reported. "Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated the hole in the ice."

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• Wear a life vest under winter gear. Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits.

"And it's a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks that may be homemade or purchased from most well-stocked sporting goods stores that cater to winter anglers," the sheriff's office stated. "It's amazing how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of unbroken, but wet and slippery ice while wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 pounds of water."

Related Topics: LEECH LAKECASS COUNTY
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