IOWA (KCAU) — Recent cold in the northern parts of Iowa has caused ice to start growing on lakes and ponds according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR said that even though some anglers may be ready to go out for early ice fishing, they should keep safety in mind.

“Many of us can’t wait to get out on the ice each winter,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Ice fishing is a fun, inexpensive activity for anglers of all ages to get outdoors and avoid cabin fever.”

The DNR is recommending that there should be a minimum of four inches of ice if you’re going to go ice fishing and at least five if you’re going to be using snowmobiles or ATVs.

“Check ice thickness as you make your way to your favorite fishing spot,” Larscheid said. “Ice conditions change constantly and its thickness can vary across the lake. Trust your instincts – if the ice does not look right, don’t go out.”

The DNR said that snow on top of ice can be a hazard since it can insulate ice and slow the growth of ice while also hiding hazards and weak spots.

The DNR also said that ice on rivers is weaker than lake ice. Ice with a bluish color is safer than clear ice and areas of slushy, honey-combed, or dark spots should be avoided.

Here’s a list of safety tips provided by the Iowa DNR:

  • No ice is 100 percent safe.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice.
  • Don’t go out alone – if the worst should happen, someone will be there to call for help or to help rescue.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Check ice thickness as you go out – there could be pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed.
  • Avoid off-colored snow or ice. It is usually a sign of weakness.
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.
  • Bring along these basic items to help keep you safe: hand warmers, ice cleats to help prevent falls, ice picks (wear around your neck) to help you crawl out of the water if you fall in, a life jacket, a floating safety rope, a whistle a call for help, a basic first aid kit and extra dry clothes including a pair of gloves.