It's a popular thing to do during the winter months, take your ATV out on the lakes. But, that can be dangerous if you're not properly prepared.
"You just don't know by looking at it. It can be really thick here, and then two feet out there you can just fall through," said Sergeant John Brogan. Sgt. Brogan with the Dane County Sheriff's Office says before you take out an ATV, you need to be prepared for an emergency. It's called a nebulus device, if one of our patrol ATV's does break through the ice, you pull on the cord which inflates into a large raft that floats," he said.
And they're mandatory on several area lakes, to help keep you safe. "If you go through the ice you're only going to have a few minutes before you start losing strength and not be able to get out of the ice," said Sgt. Brogan.
That's why in Dane County, you either have to buy or make your own flotation device, and get it approved by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, and they'll be looking for you if you don't.. "We'll be patrolling, checking people on their ATV's just making sure they have the proper safety equipment on them when they're out there," he explained.
You can get your inspection done at the Dane County Parks Operations Office located at 4318 Robertson Road in Madison. Inspections are performed every Thursday (from 5:30 pm until 7:30 pm) and Saturday (from 7:30 am until 9:30 am) throughout December and January.
Lakes Mendota, Monona and Wingra: Vehicles weighing over 850 lbs. require a special use permit. Vehicles weighing under 850 lbs. require flotation and a permit.
All other Dane County Lakes: Vehicles weighing over 850 lbs. require a special use permit. Vehicles weighing between 750-850 lbs. require flotation and a permit. Vehicles weighing under 750 lbs. have no restrictions.