With colder than normal weather and ice developing on area lakes sooner than usual, the temptation to venture out on area lakes has many folks itching to head out and enjoy some frozen-water sports. Officials caution enthusiasts that while it has been cold and ice is present, ice thicknesses are still on the low end on many lakes.

News broke yesterday of a man breaking through the ice on Gun Lake near McGregor in Aitkin County while riding an ATV on the ice. After being rescued Friday afternoon, the man later died at the hospital where he was being treated. Officials report that ice thickness varied greatly on the lake, from 6 inches to an inch, where the man broke through the ice. While 5-6 inches is considered a safe minimum for ATV and snowmobile travel, nothing less than 3-4 inches is recommended for humans on foot ice fishing.

Officials from the DNR remind people that no ice should ever be considered completely safe ice, as conditions do change from day to day and thicknesses can vary greatly from place to place on a lake. You should always check ice conditions while traveling across a frozen body of water to ensure ice thickness will support you and/or any vehicle you are traveling with.

The DNR recommends at least 4 inches for ice fishing, a minimum of 5 inches for ATV and snowmobile travel, 8-12 inches for cars and small trucks, and at least 12 inches for larger trucks and SUVs.