The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges the public to practice ice safety on all of Wisconsin’s waterbodies and remember that no ice is safe ice as they venture outdoors this winter.
Recent water rescues serve as chilly reminders that early-season ice on any Wisconsin waterbody is thin, weak and potentially life-threatening to anyone looking to get a jump on winter fun. None of the early-season breakthrough rescues were fatal incidents.
“Temperature swings, strong winds, currents, underground springs feeding lakes and rivers vary widely across Wisconsin,” said Major April Dombrowski, DNR Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section Chief. “These factors are why no ice is ever considered safe, especially not this early in the season.”
The DNR does not monitor ice conditions. If your plans include access to or use of an ice-covered waterbody, contact your local fishing clubs, bait shops or outfitters for ice conditions.
“These places routinely check ice conditions and can give you the best and most current conditions,” said Dombrowski. “If you can plan your outing without any travel over ice, do it. And if you are going to be on some ice, let someone know your plans and follow them.”
A waterbody can have its own characteristics. Check if the lake has inlets and outlets. Know whether its narrows are spring-fed or have currents like rivers, both of which can thin the ice. Some smaller lakes can have aerators that are run throughout the winter, either covering a large area towards the center of the lake or may have smaller aerators placed by private property landowners adjacent to their shore and piers.
Check out the DNR’s Ice Safety webpage for information on staying safe on the ice, including tips for creating ice claws and what to do if you fall through ice.