WALL LAKE, S.D. (KELO) – With the colder temperatures, lakes and rivers across South Dakota are iced over. However, this early in the season, people should be cautious as they head out onto frozen bodies of water.
“Being in the single digits and things like that, it’s been making some pretty good ice,” conservation officer Craig Fishel said.
Officer Fishel says one of the things to keep in mind when heading out onto frozen waters is that ‘there’s no such thing as safe ice.’
“Just be aware. Always looking out in front of you. You know, when we go out there, usually we’re not driving our trucks out there. We’re either walking or we have UTVs,” he said.
Nick Cochran, a conservation officer in Aberdeen, says ice is never 100% safe, but there are guidelines to follow.
“Four inches of ice is ok to walk out on. To bring like a UTV, snowmobile or four-wheeler, 5-7 inches of ice. Cars are about 8-12 inches of ice, and then anything above that, you know, we’re looking at about 12-15 inches of ice,” he said.
Both Fishel and Cochran talked about the importance of looking out for heaves, open water and other dangerous ice spots.
“Sometimes it has a yellowish tinge. That usually means it’s a spring or artesian well there. If it’s a dark color like, a dark blue or black, that means it’s weak ice,” Cochran said.
“Some heaves you can see from a pretty far distance. Don’t be crossing over those. Try to stay clear from those. People do tend to cross those, and those are usually the hotspots where people kind of go in at,” Fishel said.
Just like this pickup did two days ago on Bitter Lake near Waubay.
As soon as you drive on the ice, you should take your seatbelt off and roll your windows down. You should also have ice picks with you.
“Wear them around your neck. If you don’t have ice picks, it’s very hard to get a grip on the edge of the ice, and ice picks will save your life,” Cochran said.
Other gear you should have is a throwable floatation device with a rope and GPS.
“I usually carry an extra thermal blanket. Those little thermal blankets just in case you do go in, you can’t get rescued right away. You know, that can be a life saver for sure. And too, I just carry an extra pair of gloves, hats, make sure you have appropriate attire for the conditions as well,” Fishel said.
Game, Fish and Parks is also reminding people to not leave trash or fish on the ice when you leave.