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Minnesota DNR warns of thin ice danger

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is warning winter outdoor enthusiasts to stay off any ice less than four inches thick.

On Sunday, an angler fell through about two inches of ice on Coon Lake, north of the Twin Cities, but was quickly rescued.

Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist, said there were no reports of consistently walkable ice in the state.

The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of new clear ice for any foot travel on frozen water bodies. "While it's true that slightly less will support an average adult, four inches gives you a little insurance factor since ice thickness can vary greatly on any frozen lake," Smalley said.

The DNR is also warning parents to caution their children to stay off ponds and streams around their homes that now have a thin coating of ice.

"Many years around the holidays, we receive reports of children falling through ice and drowning, which is just so incredibly tragic," said Smalley.

DNR records show that in the last 10 years, 52 people have died falling through the ice in Minnesota and 21 percent of those accidents involved children under 9 years old. Safety officials recommend that children not go out on the ice without adult supervision, even when conditions improve.

Winter sports enthusiasts can obtain a free packet of ice safety information, including a pamphlet and a minimum ice thickness wallet card, by calling (651) 296-6157 in the Twin Cities, toll-free in greater Minnesota at (888) 646-6367; or e-mailing

Ice safety information is also available by visiting the DNR Web site at