Once upon a time, "drowning season" was synonomous with summer in Minnesota.
Last weekend, however, a total of seven vehicles broke through ice on Lake Minnetonka, and one child died, prompting a warning from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office that applies to people throughout Minnesota: As temperatures poke up above the freezing mark, beware of thin ice.
No ice, the sheriff warned, should be considered completely safe. Freezing and thawing create variable ice conditions.
When engaging in winter recreation on the lakes, here are some good rules to observe:
· Anyone using the ice –including people on foot, snowmobiles and ATVs --should use safety precautions such as wearing life jackets. Sheriff’s deputies wear life jackets when they are on the ice.
· For parents and caregivers of young children, remember that if your child is walking on – or near-- ice -- you should be near your child. Active supervision is recommended at all times on – or near -- lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water.
· For parents and caregivers of teens and young adults, communicate your safety rules and restrictions for those who will be driving your vehicles. If driving on ice is prohibited in your vehicle, make that rule clear to all potential drivers.
· Despite the recent cold weather, channels remain dangerous and should be avoided. A vehicle, such as a car, truck, or SUV, should NEVER be driven through a channel.
· Channels should be also be avoided by people on foot, snowmobiles, and ATVs. A snowmobile or ATV also have a high likelihood of going through the ice on a channel.
· Pressure ridges should be avoided at all times due to a false impression that the ice is stable. All vehicles including cars, trucks, SUVs, snowmobiles, and ATVs should avoid pressure ridges. People on foot should avoid pressure ridges.
· For more information about ice safety and emergency response, visit the Minnesota DNR website.