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DNR warns of thin ice as warmer weather sets in

WHITE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Recent cold temperatures may have some people heading outside for icy activities but DNR officers warn the frozen fun can be dangerous.

Before you step foot on the ice, Conservation Officer Matt Tholen said there’s one important thing you need to do.

“You just have to be aware of how thick the ice is before you even go out,” Tholen said.

Ice needs to be at least four inches thick. Tholen said once you step on the ice check it every couple of feet.

“On the average it’s about four to six inches, but with this warm front coming up here shortly and today it’s beautiful and 30-something degrees, it’s going to start melting,” Tholen said.

Choosing where to ice fish or skate matters too. While Lakes Freeman and Shafer might look like an ideal place to fish, Tholen said what’s happening under the ice can be dangerous.

“We don’t recommend them, anything with flowing water,” Tholen said. “Lake Freeman and Lake Shafer that’s all they are – dammed up rivers. It’s actually a little bit different than the stagnant water that we have at Fairfield Ponds or even the Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife area.”

Tholen said no ice is safe, even on stagnant water. Before you head out the door always make sure someone knows where you are at all times.

“We always recommend you to tell somebody,” Tholen said. “Wherever you are going, it doesn’t matter where, but tell somebody.”

Because ice can be four inches in one area and only a couple inches in the next. Tholen said you need to prepare for the worst.

“You should always wear a PFD, personal flotation device, of some sort,” Tholen said. “What I’m wearing today is a float coat and it’s something that we check fisherman in and this coat right here has got a personal flotation device in it, so it I would fall through I’d be able to stay afloat.”

Tholen said he always has ice picks with him too in case of an emergency.