OSKALOOSA — Ice fishing and other winter activities draw people near water and there are several safety topics people need to review before they head outside.
Ice fishing is a popular sport that lasts all winter.
“Once the ice gets to 4 to 5 inches of good, clear ice, it lasts until the ice starts to deteriorate,” Mahaska County Conservation Board Director Dave Sedivec said. When ice deteriorates, “it will have a dark, cloudy color,” he added.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ice thickness guidelines are: If ice is 2 inches or less, stay off; if ice is 4 inches thick, it is safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot; 5 inches is good for snowmobiles or ATVs; 8 inches to 12 inches can support a car or small pickup truck; and 12 to 15 inches can support a medium truck.
A determining factor for ice thickness is if the water is a pond vs a river.
“Moving water doesn’t freeze as hard,” Sedivec said. “If there is a spring coming up in a pond, the spring will make the ice weaker.”
Snow cover also determines ice thickness.
“If ice forms and you get a layer of snow on it, the snow will act as an insulator and the ice will form more slowly,” Sedivec said.
Ice thickness can vary on a body of water too.
A beaver or muskrat run will cause the ice to be thinner, Sedivec said. Also, geese that live at Lake Keomah can make the ice thinner where they naturally gather, he added.
“Ice can be thinner closer to shore,” Sedivec said. Things like trees, poles sticking out of the water or the shore absorbs the sun’s heat and causes ice to be thinner, he added.
Sedivec advises people to not go out on ice alone. Also, they should carry some basic gear to help themselves if they fall through ice.