LINCOLN, Neb - While late December and early January are usually times when Nebraskans bundle up to stay warm from the elements, that hasn’t quite been the case as of late - especially for ice fisherman.

Larry Pape of Nebraska Game and Parks is urging safety.

“Falling through the ice is a very dramatic situation,” Pape said. “This year is extremely important when it comes to safety. We’ve had an extremely warm year and people will be going out on any ice they can find.”

The average high temperature in Lincoln has been just shy of 44 degrees over the past 10 days - well above the temperature needed for safe angling. While overnight temperatures have dipped down well below freezing in some parts of the state, Pape says checking the ice yourself upon arrival is crucial.

“The biggest part of safety is you have to check it [ice] before you go out on it,” Pape said. “If you’re not experienced in doing that, you have to research it or come to one of our events where we discus safety.”

Pape says safe ice can’t be made by just cold nights, but cold days too. The ideal formula? Several zero temperature nights, combined with days of high temps in the teens. Often times, word spreads amongst fisherman that the ice is safe and ready for angling, but Pape again urges checking for yourself.

“When you get to a place, start proceeding from a shallow area out, drilling holes, to make sure the ice is not only thick enough, but conditions are good enough to support you and your gear,” Pape said. “You should never completely trust others without checking for yourself.”

Game and Parks is hosting a series of Discover Ice Fishing events in January, pending safe ice at Skyview Lake in Norfolk on Jan. 13, at Holmes Lake in Lincoln on Jan. 20, and Jan. 27 at Flanagan Lake in Omaha.