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Editorial: Don't be skating on thin ice

If you have the "Charlie Brown Christmas" music handy, turn it on now and select "Skating." The Vince Guaraldi Trio's light, joyful tune evokes emotions of how outdoor winter fun is supposed to be ... glide, spin and do it again.

And while you perhaps reminisce, resolve to talk with children in your life about ice safety.

Ice thickness varies greatly on lakes, ponds and rivers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some bodies of water have no ice, others have a thin glaze, and "up north" the ice may appear firmly solid — but ice is never 100 percent safe.

Here are some guidelines that can help minimize the risks:

• Wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).

• Supervise children around ice.

• Caution children to stay off ponds, streams, and other bodies of water.

• Remember that a coating of ice on a pond or lake does not mean it can support even a child's light weight.

• Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

• Check ice thickness at regular intervals — conditions can change quickly.

• Avoid channels and rivers.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

• 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.

• 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

• 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.

• 12-15 inches for a medium truck.

• Double these minimums for white or ice covered with heavy snow.

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/outdoorrecreation/activities/icesafety.html

We wince and laugh at when Lucy cracks the whip and the skating mishap ends with a tree dumping snow on the hapless Charlie Brown, but breaking through the ice is no laughing matter. Practicing basic ice precautions, teach children when they're young and they, too, will enjoy creating lasting and heart-warming memories.

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