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Drowning Deaths Up 58% in Lake Michigan

Everyone likes to cool off on a hot summer day by jumping into the lake. Typically, a day at the beach should not be dangerous. However, this year has been a particularly hazardous one for swimmers in Lake Michigan. This year, drowning have increased on Lake Michigan by 58%, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP). The organization tracks drowning in the Great Lakes and is an advocacy group for water safety. So far this year there have been 23 drownings reported.

Why are There More Drowning Deaths?

There are several factors that may be contributing to the unusually high number of deaths on the Great Lakes. First, the water level on the Great Lakes is at record levels. The high-water level can make swimming more treacherous, especially for those who are not strong swimmers. Another factor is the incidence of a number of big thunderstorms that dumped great quantities of water into the lakes. Finally, strong winds have been causing large and dangerous waves.

Strong winds and waves contribute to an undercurrent. The undercurrent cannot be easily seen and if you get stuck in it, a weak swimmer may not survive. Some areas of the lakes are more dangerous than others. The area in Michigan where the Big Sable River flows into Lake Michigan claimed three lives. The location has now been closed for swimming. Since the beginning of the year, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that there has been a total of 63 drownings in the Great Lakes, a number that is up from a five-year average of 55 at the same time.

Preventing Drowning Deaths

There are some ways to prevent drowning on Lake Michigan or anywhere. Heed the warnings that are in place at beaches all along the lake. If the winds are high, the beaches are closed and there will be a red flag in place. Do not go into the water when the waves are high, when the red warning flag is out, or when there are no lifeguards on the beach. Never swim alone and if you do not know how to swim, do not go further into the water than your knees. Teach children to swim and always keep your eye on a child in the water.

Learn how to get out of the grips of a rip current.

  • First, flip on your back.
  • Next, float and allow the current to take you.
  • Next, swim parallel to the shore and you will be able to get to a place where there is no undertow. If you try to swim against the current you will tire quickly and will not survive.

Drowning is a silent killer. Unlike the movies, drowning victims often go under without being able to yell for help. Always swim with a group and pay attention to others so they do not get too far away. If you see someone in trouble, call out to the lifeguard for help. Drowning can also happen in public and private pools. When a drowning occurs, it is devastating to the family. If a loved one was the victim of drowning at a public or private pool, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. for a consultation.

Published August 30, 2019
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