MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With 104 lakes and three rivers in Hennepin County alone, Sheriff Rich Stanek says it’s a busy time for ice rescues in Minnesota.

“Maybe you had subzero temperatures, but you’re going to go through,” Stanek said.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s office responded to 25 rescue calls out on the lakes last winter from people falling through the ice. Three people were killed.

“The most important thing is to stay calm,” he said.

The sheriff’s office gave an ice rescue demonstration Friday as part of a warning to Minnesotans to stay off thin ice, but also to teach people what to do in the event they fall through.

Deputy John Mihajlov with Hennepin County Water Patrol says rescues are “always dangerous.”

“Even when you’re in these [wetsuits] it’s like putting your hand into a sandwich bag and putting it into ice cold water,” Mihajlov said.

Hypothermia sets in at around 12 minutes in the water, so it’s important that people get out as quickly as possible. The sheriff’s office recommends the following tips:

1) Carry ice picks with you if you go out onto the ice.

2) Put your arms out like you’re swimming and keep your head above the water.

3) While climbing the ice with your picks, it’s important to kick hard to help propel yourself out onto the nearest ice shore.

“Get out, have fun, but be safe when you’re out there having fun,” Stanek said.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s office has already responded to three ice rescues this winter.

You can check with a local marina or bait shop for the latest ice conditions.


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