From snowmobiling to sledding and building an epic snow fort, when it comes to winter fun, you and your kids love spending time outdoors enjoying the snow. If you're looking for another fun and safe family activity to get your kids out of the house, ice fishing is a great option. However, before you introduce your kids to this challenging hobby, it is important that they are safe and you have everything you need to keep them warm and entertained. Here are a few tips to help you make your first ice fishing excursion with your kids as safe and enjoyable as possible:

Before You Set Foot on the Ice

Prior to getting out on the ice and finding the perfect spot to set up your fishing shack, it is important learn about staying safe. First and foremost, you must determine if the ice is thick enough for fishing.

According to Take Me Fishing, the ice should be at least 4-inches thick for you to walk on it. If you're planning on driving on the ice, it should be at least 12-inches thick. Contact your local Department of Natural Resources or a bait shop like Wilcox Bait Tackle and inquire about the ice thickness on your local lake or river.

Introduce your children to the equipment used for ice fishing, including the auger. Let the kids know that they shouldn't touch the auger and to be careful around the hole in the ice. The kids should take a seat near the hole but should never place their hands or step inside the hole.

Dressing Your Kids For the Chilly Temperatures

Once your kids are well-versed on remaining safe on the ice, it is important to dress your kids for the weather. Begin at their feet by purchasing them a sturdy pair of insulated, waterproof boots. Your kids will also need two pairs of socks: a pair of thermal socks and wicking socks. Wicking socks are worn under the thermal socks and are made of a special material that draws moisture away from the skin.

Your kids also need a pair of cleats, which provide them traction on the ice.

When it comes to keeping their body toasty, purchase a set of inexpensive long underwear. This will be the base layer. Next, give your kids a pair of wool or fleece leggings and a wool or fleece sweater.

The outer layer should consist of a pair of waterproof coveralls, an insulated, waterproof coat, fleece-lined waterproof gloves and a thick, wool or fleece hat.

Finally, even though you're on the ice, it is vital your kids wear a life jacket. If your kids should fall through the ice, a life jacket will prove invaluable.

Keeping Your Kids Happy and Entertained

If you've ever been fishing, you know that it can be hit-or-miss, which can prove very boring. This is why it is important to bring along everything you will need to keep your kids happy and entertained.

For example, provide your kids with age-appropriate chores. Your younger children can help mark the best spots on the ice to drill holes. Older children can be left in charge of the bait and take pictures of your adventure on the ice – including capturing the moment you catch a prize winning fish.

Keep your kids both entertained and safe also means knowing when to quit. According to Fishing Minnesota, the optimal time to spend out on the ice with smaller children is one to two hours. This will help ensure they remain warm and don't become too bored if the fish aren't biting.

Ice fishing with your kids can be an adventure the whole family will enjoy. Just remember that safety must be your first consideration. Also, make sure your kids follow the rules and are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions.