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Number of snowmobiles, ATV have gone through ice, including one fatal accident on Lake Tomahawk

The Department of Natural Resources is officially warning residents to take precautions before venturing out onto Northwoods waterways.
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Recent warm temperatures and rain have caused lake and river ice conditions to deteriorate, making some lakes and rivers unsafe for travel, according to conservation warden Mike Bartz of the DNR's Northern Region office in Spooner. A number of snowmobiles and ATVs have gone through the ice in northern Wisconsin this past week, Bartz said. One accident, on Lake Tomahawk, resulted in the drowning of a 9-year-old girl from Rochester, Minnesota.

Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Safety specialists are urging all recreationists who venture onto the ice to use extra caution until colder weather sets in.

“We want snowmobilers to be safe recreating in Wisconsin's outdoors, and it's important that folks know that ice is not reliably safe right now,” Bartz said.

Bartz says daytime temperatures in the 30 degree range and nighttime temperatures in the 20s does not produce good ice. The warm temperatures along with rain and snow melt have caused ice to weaken on top and below the ice.

The DNR suggests ice fishermen, ATV enthusiasts and snowmobilers check with local bait shops and resorts before heading out on waterways.

“Caution and checking out conditions could save your life or the life of someone you love. Please be careful out there,” Bartz said.

Here are some other tips from the DNR regarding ice safety.

* Clear, solid ice at least 2 inches thick is usually sufficient to hold a single person walking on foot. For safety's sake, wait until the ice is at least 3 inches thick and go with a friend. Keep at least 50 feet of distance between each other. Ice fishing with several friends and gear requires at least 4 inches of ice, and for snowmobiles and ATVs, 5 inches.

* Ice will generally be thicker near shore and get thinner as one ventures out. Check ice thickness with an ice spud or auger starting a few feet from shore and every 10 to 20 feet as one goes towards the middle of the waterway.

* Lake ice is generally stronger than river ice. Springs, lake inlets and outlets, and channels can alter ice thickness.

* Whether alone or with a friend on early ice, always carry a couple of large sharpened nails and a length of rope in an easily accessible pocket. The nails or commercially bought ice grabbers can help a person pull themselves out of the water and on to more solid ice. The rope can be thrown to another person for rescue.

* If you are alone and go through the ice, take a few seconds to get over the “cold shock.” Regain your breathing, kick hard and try to swim up onto the ice. If successful, crawl on your hands and knees or roll to more solid ice. Get to the nearest warm place quickly. If your attempts to swim onto the ice are unsuccessful, get as much of your body out of the water as you can and yell for help. Studies show you will have about 30 minutes or more before the body is incapacitated by hypothermia.

* Proper clothing can increase chances of survival should a person break through the ice. A snowmobile type suit if it is zipped can and will trap air and slow the body's heat loss. Once filled with water, however, insulated suits become heavy and will hinder rescue. Newer model snowmobile suits have flotation material built in and anyone traversing ice should consider purchasing one of these suits. On early ice it is advised to wear a personal flotation device.

* Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible. Traveling in a vehicle, especially early or late in the season, is an accident waiting to happen.

* When driving on ice be prepared to leave the vehicle in a hurry. Unbuckle the seat belt and have a simple plan of action in case of ice breakthrough. Anglers may want to leave a window open for an easy exit.

* Often vehicles will establish roads from shore to the current fishing hotspots. Repeated vehicle use may cause the ice to weaken. The ice roads may not always be the safest routes.
 

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Number of snowmobiles, ATV have gone through ice, including one fatal accident on Lake Tomahawk

The Department of Natural Resources is officially warning residents to take precautions before venturing out onto Northwoods waterways.
ADVERTISEMENT

Recent warm temperatures and rain have caused lake and river ice conditions to deteriorate, making some lakes and rivers unsafe for travel, according to conservation warden Mike Bartz of the DNR's Northern Region office in Spooner. A number of snowmobiles and ATVs have gone through the ice in northern Wisconsin this past week, Bartz said. One accident, on Lake Tomahawk, resulted in the drowning of a 9-year-old girl from Rochester, Minnesota.

Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Safety specialists are urging all recreationists who venture onto the ice to use extra caution until colder weather sets in.

“We want snowmobilers to be safe recreating in Wisconsin's outdoors, and it's important that folks know that ice is not reliably safe right now,” Bartz said.

Bartz says daytime temperatures in the 30 degree range and nighttime temperatures in the 20s does not produce good ice. The warm temperatures along with rain and snow melt have caused ice to weaken on top and below the ice.

The DNR suggests ice fishermen, ATV enthusiasts and snowmobilers check with local bait shops and resorts before heading out on waterways.

“Caution and checking out conditions could save your life or the life of someone you love. Please be careful out there,” Bartz said.

Here are some other tips from the DNR regarding ice safety.

* Clear, solid ice at least 2 inches thick is usually sufficient to hold a single person walking on foot. For safety's sake, wait until the ice is at least 3 inches thick and go with a friend. Keep at least 50 feet of distance between each other. Ice fishing with several friends and gear requires at least 4 inches of ice, and for snowmobiles and ATVs, 5 inches.

* Ice will generally be thicker near shore and get thinner as one ventures out. Check ice thickness with an ice spud or auger starting a few feet from shore and every 10 to 20 feet as one goes towards the middle of the waterway.

* Lake ice is generally stronger than river ice. Springs, lake inlets and outlets, and channels can alter ice thickness.

* Whether alone or with a friend on early ice, always carry a couple of large sharpened nails and a length of rope in an easily accessible pocket. The nails or commercially bought ice grabbers can help a person pull themselves out of the water and on to more solid ice. The rope can be thrown to another person for rescue.

* If you are alone and go through the ice, take a few seconds to get over the “cold shock.” Regain your breathing, kick hard and try to swim up onto the ice. If successful, crawl on your hands and knees or roll to more solid ice. Get to the nearest warm place quickly. If your attempts to swim onto the ice are unsuccessful, get as much of your body out of the water as you can and yell for help. Studies show you will have about 30 minutes or more before the body is incapacitated by hypothermia.

* Proper clothing can increase chances of survival should a person break through the ice. A snowmobile type suit if it is zipped can and will trap air and slow the body's heat loss. Once filled with water, however, insulated suits become heavy and will hinder rescue. Newer model snowmobile suits have flotation material built in and anyone traversing ice should consider purchasing one of these suits. On early ice it is advised to wear a personal flotation device.

* Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible. Traveling in a vehicle, especially early or late in the season, is an accident waiting to happen.

* When driving on ice be prepared to leave the vehicle in a hurry. Unbuckle the seat belt and have a simple plan of action in case of ice breakthrough. Anglers may want to leave a window open for an easy exit.

* Often vehicles will establish roads from shore to the current fishing hotspots. Repeated vehicle use may cause the ice to weaken. The ice roads may not always be the safest routes.[/b]


We passed on a planned trip this weekend for this very reason. We need to keep this post near the top of the list and in front of everyone's attention. We are going to make our first trip of the year in two weeks after a few days of cold weather that is supposed to start the beginning of next week. Oh, and you get some more snow. I talked to a freind in Rhinelander and he said that the trails may even close if there is no more snow soon.
 
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