Take a look at my top-ten list of fears and you'll find 'falling through the ice' (somewhere between being buried in an avalanche and spending a Friday night at Chuck E Cheese). Just this Sunday a man went through the ice on his ATV on Lake Koronis near Paynesville.

First and foremost, when it comes to ice thickness, safety, and predictability -- there are no guarantees. They keys to safety are awareness, knowledge, preparedness, and the ability to react calmly & effectively in case things go bad.

Before you go out on the ice, check with a local bait shop or lakeside resort to ask about ice conditions. Once you get there, measure ice thickness using an ice chisel, auger, tape measure, or cordless drill.

Remember, temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.

Minnesota DNR

White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

The Minnesota DNR offers several other after guidelines related to traveling on ice, having a survival plan, ice water rescues, escaping from a vehicle, and helping someone who has broken through. That information and more can be accessed HERE.

Last winter three people died after falling through the ice on Minnesota lakes. Be aware. Be smart. Be safe.