44 Great Lakes drownings reported in 2019

Local News

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project announced its current drowning statistics. In 2019, GLSRP has 44 Great Lakes drownings on record and 22 of those happened in Lake Michigan. 

Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked 784 Great Lakes drownings. 

Chief William Engelter of Lansing Emergency Management said, “On the Great Lakes a lot more wave action, a lot more rip tide action, a lot more unstable currents where the beaches are normally a little bit calmer. This year seems to a lot more red flag conditions that are a lot more hazardous.”

Recently, some beaches have been closed in order to keep people safe, but “Even with a red flag situation people will still be tempted to exceed their limitations and get in that water,” said Engelter.

In larger bodies of water, he said people need to be mindful of the currents.

“The strongest swimmer can not swim against the rip tide,” said Engelter. “The more you swim in the more it pushes you back out.”

Engelter said the safest way to get out is to, “Swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of that rip tide.

People aren’t just drowning in lakes.

“Throughout this time of year it is a daily occurrence, especially on the great lakes, those life guarded beaches are really common that they have to make rescues because,” said Engelter. “People don’t heed the warnings, we have the same issue here locally.”

It’s happened in rivers and near dams.

“There’s something called a boil and as you go over that dam, you get sucked into the boil and the force of the water physically holds you under the water and doesn’t allow you to come back up,” said Engelter.

Around pools, Engelter reminds kids, as well as adults to swim with a buddy. For the smaller kids, he said to keep a close eye on them.

“They’ve got to follow some really basic safety tips to have an enjoyable time and prevent tragedy,” said Engelter. “Get out there and enjoy it, but just follow the safety tips.”

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