Ice conditions on many of Wisconsin’s lakes are less than ideal. “At this point we’re advising use extreme caution,” said Catherina Nooyen, a Department of Natural Resources Recreational Safety Warden. “There’s been warmer weather, we’ve had a lot of rain, snow is soft on top of the ice. On smaller lakes and ponds the ice is pulling away from the shoreline, and we have some rivers that are opening up.”
The body of a man whose SUV went through the ice of a lake in Washburn County was recovered on Wednesday. “Driving on ice is always a risk. If you have an alternative to that we highly suggest that you do that,” Nooyen said.
The DNR does not monitor ice conditions, making it an individual’s responsibility to learn those conditions. Nooyen recommends asking about ice conditions at local bait shops before you venture out.
People who do venture out on the ice should:
· Dress warmly in layers and consider wearing a life jacket or vest.
· Not go alone. Head out with friends or family. Take a cell phone and make sure someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.
· Know before you go. Don’t travel in areas you are not familiar and don’t travel at night or during reduced visibility.
· Avoid inlets, outlets or narrow that may have current that can thin the ice.
· Look for clear ice, which is generally stronger than ice with snow on it or bubbles in it.
· Carry some basic safety gear: ice claws or picks, a cellphone in a waterproof bag or case, a life jacket and length of rope, and a spud bar to check ice while walking to new areas.
· Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice and take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
If you go through the ice:
· Carry a set of ice picks in your pocket to help you climb out of the ice hole.
· Once out of the water, do not stand up. Rather, walk on your forearms until the majority of your body is on solid surface.
· Try to remain calm, call for help and take steps to get out of the water as soon as possible.
In a close call on Mirror Lake in Sauk County, three adults and one child fell through the ice on Sunday. A man and woman went through the ice when they attempted to come to the assistance of a man and his daughter. All four were able to get out of the water and move towards shore before rescue personnel arrived.
“You really have to be careful if you decide that you’re going to try to rescue someone, because you could become someone who needs rescuing at that point,” Nooyen said.