Ice Safety

1. Measure ice thickness in several locations.

Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. Consult knowledgeable local individuals. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use. The recommended minimum ice thickness for new clear hard ice is:

3" (7cm) or less STAY OFF

4" (10cm) ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing

6" (12cm) one snowmobile or ATV

8"-12" (20-30cm) one car or small pickup truck

12"-15" (30-38cm) one medium truck (pickup or van)

2. Avoid traveling on ice at night.

At night it is very difficult to see open holes in the ice. This is a frequent cause of snowmobile drownings.

3. Never go onto ice alone.

A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and expected time of return.

4. Stay off river ice.

River currents can quickly change ice thickness over night or between different parts of the river.

5. Wear a flotation suit or a lifejacket.

Wear a floatation survival suit, lifejacket or PFD over your layered winter clothes to increase your survival chances if you do go through the ice. Make sure you know how to properly wear these devices otherwise they will not increase your chances of survival. Check out Floating Safely and see which one is for you.

6. Take safety equipment with you.

Include ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit in your pocket, which includes a pocketknife, compass, whistle, fire starter kit and a cell phone.

7. If you drive on ice, have an escape plan.

Open your windows, unlock your doors, undo your seatbelt, and turn on your lights to allow you to quickly escape from your vehicle.

8. Ice Colour

The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength.

  • Clear blue ice is strongest (aka. Black Ice)

  • White opaque or snow ice is half as strong as blue ice. Opaque ice is formed by wet snow freezing on the ice.

  • Grey ice is unsafe. The grayness indicates the presence of water.

A fun and informative classic from Uncut Angling
CO Minnesota Department of Natural Resources