Traveling on ice

The following guidelines can help you make wise choices...

snowmobile on the ice

Check for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop.
Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel, ice auger or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit.

Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.
If you must drive a vehicle, be prepared to leave it in a hurry--keep windows down and have a simple emergency plan of action you have discussed with your passengers.

Stay away from alcoholic beverages.
Even "just a couple of beers" are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder rather than warming you up.

Don't "overdrive" your snowmobile's headlight.
At even 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated the hole in the ice.

Wear a life vest under your winter gear.
Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. And it's a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks that may be home made or purchased from most well stocked sporting goods stores that cater to winter anglers. It's amazing how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of unbroken but wet and slippery ice while wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. CAUTION: Do NOT wear a flotation device when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle! 


For more information, contact the Minnesota DNR for our free ice safety and hypothermia prevention brochures. Metro 651-296-6157, or toll free in Greater Minnesota 888-646-6367.

If you wish to re-use any DNR Boat and Water Safety materials from this Web site, please contact us.