As summer activities start to ramp up on Michigan waters, police in northern Michigan want everyone to be safe.
There’ve been four drownings in the state this weekend alone. The drowning victims range in age from 6 to 45-years-old. Captain Steve Wietrzykowski of the Ludington Police says Michiganders need to be more careful.
“Being in Michigan we all live very close to any kind of body of water. And as Michiganders it’s important to know water safety,” Captain Wietrzykowski states.
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project reports drownings in the Great Lakes are up 71% from last year. Ludington Police says their annual Water Safety Day comes just in time this Saturday. The goal of Saturday’s Water Safety Day is to teach people how to stay safe in and around the water.
“The important thing is, the whole event is to promote water safety,” Captain Wietrzykowski says.
They say if you find yourself in a situation where someone is drowning, stay where the swimmer was last seen, call 911 and think twice before trying your own rescue.
“Because if you’re not a strong swimmer you may end up a casualty yourself. So, sometimes the best thing you can do is to stay on the shore and try to throw them a line. Just be a good witness for first responders,” Captain Wietrzykowski admits.
The Mason County Sheriff, Kim Cole, says he’s noticed an increase in drownings. He advises that kids wear life jackets and adults avoid alcohol before getting into the water.
“Listen to what the weather experts are saying and when they’re talking about dangerous rip currents or hazardous beach statements. Take those serious, because you are not going to win. No matter how powerful, or strong swimmer you are, you’re not going to beat Lake Michigan,” Sheriff Cole says.
Sheriff Cole says he’s not sure what has caused the recent rise in drownings. He says he hopes this weekends Water Safety Day will raise awareness and keep people safe, because although the water is peaceful it can also be dangerous.
“We understand what’s drawing you to our community, but above all else, we want you to be safe while you’re here,” Sheriff Cole states.
Water Safety Day is Saturday June 4 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the west end of Stearns Park in Ludington. If the weather allows, the Coast Guard will conduct a helicopter search and rescue demonstration at 11:30am.