Know Before you Go: Staying Safe on the Ice this Winter

It may only be early February, but temperatures are above freezing here in Madison, which means lots and lots of melting snow and ice. While Wisconsinites know winter will likely be back (several times) before spring officially arrives, keeping ice safety top of mind during these warm ups is essential to preventing an accident.

With multiple lakes, and plenty of ponds and creeks, the Madison area definitely has its fair share of ice that accumulates over the winter months. In fact, we’re so proud of our icy lakes, we hold outdoor events like the Frozen Assets Festival and the UW Winter Carnival, both of which celebrate the year-round activities available on our local waters. 


Ice safety is critical for anyone venturing out onto frozen waters. Frozen Assets and the Winter Carnival have professionals ensure the ice is safe before inviting guests to participate, and public ice rinks are tested for safety before officially “opening” or “closing”. Whether it’s been deemed safe or not, you should always, always make sure you follow our ice safety guidelines.

Know Before you Go: Staying Safe on the Ice this Winter

  1. Ice is unpredictable. According to the Wisconsin DNR, There is not a 100 percent foolproof way to judge the safety of ice. Factors such as appearance, age, thickness and temperature all combine to create unpredictable conditions. Ice strength can also vary in different areas of the same body of water. 
  2. Check with local bait shops or fishing clubs for up-to-date information. These pros often know the conditions better than anyone
  3. Make sure you don’t go alone and have a cell phone in case of emergency
  4. Don’t go out on ice at night or if the ice is covered in snow. Both can affect your ability to see “weak” spots in the ice
  5. Avoid inlets, outlets or narrows that could have a current affecting the thickness of ice
  6. Look for clear ice rather than ice with bubbles
  7. For more information, visit the Wisconsin DNR webpage


We hope you can enjoy some time on Wisconsin’s beautiful icy lakes before Spring arrives – but please stay safe!



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