By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Later in the week, we’ll see temperatures in the mid to upper 30s. But overnight, they’ll drop close to single digits. The DNR says this is the time when ice conditions on Minnesota lakes are most dangerous.

On Monday night, volunteer firefighters from Maple Plain and Loretto went through cold water rescue training on Lake Independence.

They’re preparing for a worst-case scenario while hoping people use their best judgment.

“You always have to be careful, but especially now as lakes are just starting to freeze. You don’t know where the thin spots are and it’s always good to use good judgment,” said Chief Justin McCoy, Maple Plain Fire.

“Even like we see here on the same body of water, we have open water and we have ice,” added Lisa Dugan.

Dugan is a recreation safety coordinator with the DNR.

She said the beginning of the ice season and the end are the most dangerous because ice conditions can change in a matter of hours. And it’s not just people who are at risk.

A couple weeks ago in White Bear Lake, a deer had to be rescued by a first responder.

“Keep your pets on leashes. Don’t let them go out on the ice. Not only would you have a bad situation with your pet, but people tend to go in after their pets and then we have a human that needs rescuing as well,” Dugan said.

The DNR recommends at least four inches of new, clear ice before walking on a lake or pond. Five to 7 inches is needed before a snowmobile can be put on the ice.

“People want to start recreating on the ice – ice fishing. We love our winter sports. If there is any question of the safety of the ice, just don’t go out on it,” Dugan said.

Last year there were six thin ice-related fatalities on Minnesota lakes, but the DNR said that doesn’t take into account a number of other people who were rescued after falling through.

John Lauritsen

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