December 17, 2009 at 9:03 a.m.

DNR and local authorities not recommending travel on area lakes yet

DNR and local authorities not recommending travel on area lakes yet
DNR and local authorities not recommending travel on area lakes yet

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning parents to caution their children to stay off the thin ice that is now forming.

No ice in the state is consistently four inches thick, which is the minimum recommended to support the weight of a person.

"DNR conservation officers are reporting that people are starting to tip-toe out on a few frozen ponds," said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. "This is not a good idea, and it could set a bad example for children."

According to DNR statistics, 43 people have died in falls through the ice in Minnesota in the last 10 years. Some 29 percent of them were younger than nine years old.

The holidays are a particularly risky time, since children are out of school and spend more time outdoors.

"Many years around the holidays we receive reports of children falling through ice and drowning, and it's just so incredibly tragic, " Smalley said."Kids just don't have the knowledge of what ice is safe. That's why the DNR recommends that adults supervise children whenever they go out on the ice, even when ice conditions improve."

The DNR also recommends contacting a local bait shop or resort to check on if the ice is acceptable for various activities.

Winter sports enthusiasts can obtain a free packet of ice safety information including a pamphlet and a minimum ice thickness wallet card by calling 651-296-6157 in the Twin Cities area and toll-free in greater Minnesota at 888-646-6367. Or you may access the information electronically. Send an e-mail to [email protected] requesting the packet, or download ice safety information and a video from www.mndnr.gov/safety/ice.

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