A risky winter tradition has begun

As more venture out onto the ice, those at the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office expect rescue calls to start rolling in.

“We don’t really condone anyone being out on the ice because the ice can never be deemed completely safe,” said Patrol Captain Todd Christie.

The DNR says the ice needs to be at least four inches thick to walk on, and it needs to be at least five inches thick to travel by snowmobile or ATV.

If you do unfortunately find yourself in the water this winter, the cost of the rescue could come out of your own pocket.

“Winnebago County enacted an ordinance for unnecessary rescues,” Christie explained. “If the average person would say the location you’re in, you’re out late at night and it’s deemed the average citizen wouldn’t have done that, and it’s an unnecessary rescue, and cost taxpayers money for law enforcement to respond, those costs can be reimbursed through this process and the individual rescued may have to pay.”

However if you do have to foot the bill, Christie says there is an appeal process.

Authorities warn people to check with the local fishing clubs about conditions, and then decide whether you should head out.