Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – It’s hard to imagine a Wisconsin winter without activities on the ice; from ice fishing to snowmobiling and even ice skating. But the DNR says being on the ice can be risky.

“Ice is never 100% safe. You always want to plan as if there’s thin ice or spots where it’s not going to be as thick as you might think it is.”

Jake Bolks is a conservation warden with the Wisconsin DNR and says people should be prepared for an emergency.

“So before you go out, you always want to make sure you have the stuff to rescue yourself if you need to. A lifejacket or rope or ice picks or anything like that. And then just do your own research on whatever lake or river you’re going to.

And sometimes looks can be deceiving on the ice. Randy Paulson is an ice fisher and says with early ice, he waits to make sure the ice is thick in the center of the lake.

“It may be thick here, but out in the middle of where the birds were for a while, it might be only two or three inches, not enough to hold the vehicle. So, I give it some time for the water to get really cold and form good ice all the way across.”

And if you are concerned about safety on the ice, Bolks says don’t risk it.

“Check the ice conditions, drill some extra holes when you’re going out to make sure the ice is thick, and just talk with other fishermen, snowmobilers, who’s on the ice”

“It’s hard to tell you what the right ice is to be on. The best thing to do is always be prepared. Go with whatever you’re comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t go on it.”

Bolks says if you see any water coming through parts of the ice, or ice looks gray, to stay away from those areas as that is likely thin ice.