There’s not too many things more fun than playing in the big waves – surfing, bodysurfing or just fooling around. Unfortunately, fun can turn deadly if you’re not paying attention. mLive reports that it’s been a deadly year on Lake Michigan saying that as of last Tuesday:
64 drownings had been reported in Lake Michigan during the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2010 fiscal year, which continues through Sept. 30, said Charles Wolfson, a civilian search and rescue controller for the agency’s Lake Michigan Command Center in Milwaukee. That compares to 40 drownings for the all of the 2009 fiscal year in Lake Michigan, which touches four states with its beaches.
…Dave Guenther, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Marquette, said he too believes this year’s elevated number of drownings is directly related to the hot temperatures.
Guenther had documented 17 Great Lakes drownings associated with rip currents this year before the drownings Sunday of a 27-year-old suburban Grand Rapids woman on a Muskegon beach and a 44-year-old Lawton man off Ludington’s shore.
Last year, Guenther tracked three drownings related to rip currents in Lake Michigan for the entire season.
“This is the largest number of any year I’ve had on record so far,” he said. “I think the lakes are much warmer this year than last year. So the big thing is more people are going out into the lakes.”
The Michigan Sea Grant has great information about rip currents. Knowing these simple things can help ensure that you or your loved ones don’t end up on the wrong side of the statistics.
Signs that a rip current may be present
- A break in the incoming wave pattern
- A channel of churning, choppy water
- A line of foam or debris moving seaward
- A difference in water color
If caught in a rip current
- Stay calm
- Don’t fight the current
- Swim in a direction following the shoreline (parallel)
- Float or tread water if you’re unable to escape by swimming. When the current weakens, swim at an angle (away from the current) toward shore
- If you cannot reach shore, draw attention to yourself. Face the shore, call or wave for help
Helping someone else