Ice safety reminder as Iowa lakes freeze over

The recent blast of arctic air is growing ice on lakes and ponds over much of Iowa. Anglers are starting to get out for the popular of the season.

?Many of us look forward to ice fishing each winter,? said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. ?It is a fun, social activity best enjoyed with family and friends.?

Anglers heading out are reminded to check the ice often as they make their way to their fishing spot. DNR recommends a minimum of 4 inches of quality ice for fishing and at least 5 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs.

?Check ice thickness as you go out. Ice thickness is not uniform on anybody of water,? Larscheid said. ?There could be pockets of thin ice or places where the geese had kept ice from forming.?

?Now that we have ice, we must go through our mental safety check list,? Larscheid said.

? No ice is 100 percent safe. New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Avoid off-colored snow or ice; it?s usually a sign of weakness.

? Don?t go out alone ? if the worst should happen, someone will be there to help.

? Tell someone where you?re going and when you?ll return.

? Safety items in the bucket: Ice picks, 50 feet of rope and a floatable seat cushion to throw to someone in case of rescue.