Sadly, this has been one of the deadliest summers for Lake Michigan beach goers. As of July 15, 2022 we were on pace for a record number of drownings with numbers not seen since 2020 when the Great Lake claimed the lives of 53 victims.

Just over this past weekend Lake Michigan claimed yet another victim at Grand Haven State Park despite red flags being flown to warn would-be swimmers of hazardous conditions. What's it going to take to stop these preventable deaths from happening?

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Red Flag Days

The Great Lakes are powerful and unpredictable, that's why many beaches have a color-coded flag system in place:

  • Red = Unsafe conditions, do not enter or swim in the water
  • Yellow = Be cautious of possible dangerous currents and high waves
  • Green = Safe to swim, but always keep on eye on changing conditions

There has been much debate over this system and its effectiveness; most recently Grand Haven State Park even instituted a double-red flag system, yet these drownings keep occurring.

Swimmers' Safety

In an effort to help keep the public safe, many local business are trying to entice would-be be goers with discounts on red-flag days. The Mitten Children's Museum offers buy one, get one admission on days when a red-flag is being flown and restaurants like The Lodge have also followed suit.

The most recent effort to help keep swimmers safe is thanks to the Rotary Club of South Haven. In conjunction with the Bronson Safe Kids program, new life jacket loaner stations have been installed on South Haven's north and south beaches.

Says South Haven Area Emergency Services,

Each station is equipped with approximately 20 life jackets, ranging in size from infant to adult extra large. The intent is for the jackets to be used by beach-goers and then returned for the next user.

I've seen similar stations installed at waterparks and I think it's a fantastic idea. Hopefully it's just what we need to prevent any future swimmers from succumbing to the dangerous conditions of the Great Lakes. It should go without saying, but make sure you check the conditions at the lake before you go swimming!

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